Evan finds Nestle refrigerated cookie dough; Doug cooks it (sorta)

During the evening of Thursday, June 18, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment urged Coloradans not to eat raw Nestle Toll House cookie dough because of possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7.

The next morning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers not to eat any varieties of prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough due to the risk of contamination with E. coli O157:H7. At the same time, Nestlé announced a voluntary recall of all Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products, “out of an abundance of caution.”

About 4:30 p.m. central time on Friday, June 19, 2009 (happy birthday, daughter Jaucelynn, avoid the raw cookie dough) colleague Evan reported that he had successfully obtained a package of Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough (above, right, exactly as shown). I say obtained because he didn’t have to pay for it. Evan went to a local supermarket, and saw, “a young kid, armed with a box cutter, standing beside a cart full of Nestle Toll House products.

“I asked if I could have one of them, to which he replied, ‘you’re not going to get a refund for it are you?’ I told him no, but he said he had to cut open the package so I couldn’t return it. The kid wasn’t wearing any gloves and was sweating, so I’m guessing he was out there for a while handling a potentially contaminated product.”

And he gave Evan the raw cookie dough, which Evan triple-bagged and refrigerated until Saturday.

Amy and Sorenne and I went grocery shopping this morning, and observed that the Nestle refrigerated products had been dutifully cleared out (left, exactly as shown). We did, however, buy a couple of other raw cookie dough products. I never eat the stuff, but understand that many are quite passionate about their raw cookie dough.

There are at least two potential problems with raw cookie dough: eating it, and cross-contamination. Evan and I videotaped a cooking experiment and the cookies get plenty hot to kill off potential pathogens (we’ll post that later).

Bill Marler has written about the uh, inadequacies of the labels on Nestle raw cookie dough. Not that anyone reads labels, or that everyone speaks English, but maybe there shoud be more of a declaration of potential risk.

And bigger type: not to sound like ole-man-grouchy-Powell, but even with my reading glasses I could barely read a damn thing on the label. The Kroger private selection brand says,

Keep refrigerated
Use before date on package
Do not eat unbaked cookie dough.

The Pillsbury refrigerated cookie dough says,

Do not microwave unbaked Poppin Fresh dough
Bake before enjoying
Do not use if unsealed.

It would seems with at least 66 people sick with a serious illness – E. coli O157:H7 – of which 25 had to be hospitalized and seven will suffer long-term kidney damage, these labels sorta suck.

Oh, and according to a story carried by Bloomberg,

“The Toll House cookie brand is named for the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, whose owner, Ruth Wakefield, is credited with inventing the chocolate chip cookie in the 1930s."