Nestle USA has announced that it will change the formula for its famous Toll House raw cookie dough products after two recent samples tested positive for E. coli bacteria. The same products were part of a massive cookie dough recall last summer, which was linked to cases of food poisoning in people from at least 30 states.
The company indicated on Monday that E. coli bacteria was found in additional samples of Nestle Toll House refrigerated and prepackaged cookie dough products before they were shipped. As a result, the company shut down production at their Danville, Virginia, plant to switch to a new formula that uses heat-treated flour.
The plant is scheduled to re-open on January 25. Nestle officials said that none of the packages from the contaminated batch left the factory, so there is no need for another Toll House raw cookie dough recall, and products that are on the shelf were reportedly not affected.
All Nestle Toll House refrigerated and prepackaged cookie dough products were recalled on June 19, 2009, when at least 69 people reportedly suffered E. coli food poisoning after eating the Nestle cookie dough raw. Nine of those cases resulted in hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe form of food poisoning associated with kidney failure.
After the food poisoning outbreak, the factory was shut down for an extensive period while the company and FDA inspectors searched the plant for the source of the contamination. No cause for the outbreak was ever found, but the plant instituted new testing standards that included testing of all ingredients before they entered the factory and testing of products before they shipped out.
Several cookie dough food poisoning lawsuits have been filed against Nestle as a result of the E. coli outbreak, which mostly affected teen and pre-teen girls. Symptoms of E. coli food poisoning could include bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. While most people recovered in about a week, young children, the elderly and those with a weak immune system were more susceptible to severe infections.