Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Not My Cookie Dough

Frozen chocolate chip cookie dough has been recalled due to possible contamination with E coli O157:H7. This is a really nasty bug that can lead to kidney failure and, in some cases, death. Investigators performed a case control study. Basically, what you do is interview all the sick people, find out every food they ate in the last two weeks. Then you interview a well person, usually someone else in the home, and find out everything they ate in the last two weeks. This is tough -- a lot of people don't remember everything they ate. Sometimes you have to ask about foods normally eaten. For example, I don't ever eat fried liver, so I know I haven't eaten it in the last two weeks. So that would be a 'no' on the questionnaire. I do eat raw spinach, and while I can't remember for sure if I ate it in the last two weeks, there is a good possibility, so it should be marked 'yes.' In the case control study, frozen cookie dough emerged as the most likely culprit. Statistically, people who were sick were significantly more likely to have consumed it than people who were not sick.

The big question in my mind is how the heck did the E coli end up in raw cookie dough? E coli primarily comes from contaminated cattle, although other animals can be infected. When you hear about produce outbreaks, in all likelihood the field was contaminated somehow, like through water runoff or wild animal activity. How did it end up in the dough? I heard a news report which suggested that meat products are also processed at the cookie dough plant, but it still seams odd to me.

In one of the salmonella in commercial food outbreaks investigators found that birds roosting in the rafters of the processing facility were defecating down into the works of the machinery. How disgusting is that?

If you still have any of the recalled dough, throw it away. While cooking it would kill the bacteria, there is a very high likelihood for cross-contamination of your hands and kitchen. Which means you would get sick any way. You might be able to see if you can get your money back from the store where you purchased it.

No comments:

Post a Comment