A California woman has filed what is believed to be the first food poisoning lawsuit following last week’s Nestle Toll House cookie dough recall, alleging that she was hospitalized due to E. coli infection after eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough.
Jillian Collins, 18, filed the Toll House cookie dough lawsuit in San Mateo Superior Court against Nestle USA on Monday, days after the June 19th recall for all of their raw, refrigerated cookie dough products. Collins alleges that she was hospitalized for seven days after she fell ill on May 26, experiencing severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and nausea.
The FDA warned consumers last Friday to avoid eating any variety of Nestle Toll House cookie dough due to a risk of contamination with E. coli O157:H7, a bacteria that is a common cause of food poisoning. Federal health officials indicated that 66 people in 28 states had reported suffering cookie dough food poisoning, including at least 25 people who were hospitalized with the illness and seven who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS); a severe complication of E. coli that can cause kidney damage and death.
Although there has been no E. coli directly found in Nestle cookie dough as of Monday, Collins lawsuit alleges that she developed the food poisoning due to the company’s dirty facilities.
Nestle USA says it has recalled 300,000 cases of cookie dough, encompassing dozens of brands. They have also shutdown production at their plant in southeast Virginia where the cookie dough is made, resulting in about 200 employees being laid off.
The FDA and CDC are continuing their investigation at the plant. While they have not yet discovered how E. coli O157:H7 got into the cookie dough, they indicate that there is a “strong association” between those who have become ill and eating raw, prepackaged Nestle Toll House cookie dough.
As additional information is learned about the cause of the contamination, additional Nestle cookie dough recall lawsuits are expected to be filed on behalf of individuals who have suffered severe food poisoning.
The recalled cookie dough has a warning label which indicates that the dough should not be eaten raw, but many consumers remain unaware of this and the dough is commonly eaten raw. The CDC has indicated that people should not try cooking the recalled cookie dough, as the E. coli bacteria could be spread by contact with the dough and still infect them.