By now, most people have heard that Nestle has "voluntarily" recalled its Toll House cookie dough. (A full list of the recalled Toll House products is available on the FDA's Web site.) So far 65 people has suffered illness, 70 percent of them under 19 years old and two in Missouri.
The strain of E. coli the CDC believes is in the cookie dough is a particularly bad one called 0157:H7. It especially affects the very young and elderly and can cause "acute bloody diarrhea" for 5 to 10 days and in rare cases kidney failure. It can also lead to dehydration (caused by diarrhea) and infections.
How did it end up in cookie dough? Food activist Marion Nestle is perplexed by this, writing, "how on earth did this nasty form of E. coli, usually excreted by farm animals, get into it? Eggs? Butter?
Children aren't supposed to eat cookie dough, because raw egg is considered a salmonella risk. But eggs can harbor E. coli too.
TA string of illnesses nine years ago was related to eggs and 0157:H7. Shortly after the outbreak, the Nutrition Research Newsletter published a paper
showing that E. coli could survive for more than two hours in steamed
and scrambled eggs.
But there's a chance the current outbreak could be caused by something else. The Toll House chocolate chunk cookie dough lists 15 ingredients; besides eggs and egg yolk, there are dairy and wheat products. Milk caused an E. coli outbreak in California in 2006.
Just cook your cookie dough, OK? Yes, it's delicious raw, but it's also dangerous.