Saturday, June 20, 2009

Unusual, but not entirely surprising, contaminated "food" recall

Yesterday, after US health officials linked Toll House refrigerated cookie dough to E. coli infections in as many as 66 people in 28 states, Nestle USA recalled the convenience item I am struggling to call "food." From the NY Times article:

Officials have been hunting since March for the cause of cases from across the country that shared the same genetic fingerprint. Because most victims were young and female, the investigation was unusual from the start. Twenty-five people have been hospitalized, including seven who suffered a severe complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome. No one has died.

Among the early food suspects were strawberries and fruit smoothies, but neither quite fit. On Wednesday, health investigators in Washington State proposed a link with NestlĂ©’s raw cookie dough, prompting officials in the rest of the country to re-interview victims. All six in Minnesota confirmed eating raw dough, said Carlota Medus, an epidemiologist in the state health department.

As tempted as I am to rant about the sorry state of food safety, I think I have to bring up consumer responsibility instead. I mean, isn't there a universal rule about not eating raw cookie dough (unless, of course, it happens to be mixed with ice cream in a Ben 'N Jerry's container)? And if you do dare to taste a spoonful of raw cookie dough or brownie batter, aren't you admittedly taking a gamble?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Nestle should be entirely off the hook... I'm just saying that while food safety officials investigate the source of contamination, be it an ingredient or something within the processing facility, maybe people could use a little common sense.

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