On June 19, 2009, Nestlé USA announced a voluntary recall of all Nestlé Toll House refrigerated cookie dough after being notified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of an investigation into E. coli O157:H7 illnesses associated with the consumption of raw, refrigerated cookie dough. The FDA later confirmed evidence of E. coli O157:H7 in a retained production sample of 16.5 oz Nestlé Toll House refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough bar.
On July 9, the FDA closed its inspection of the Danville, VA facility after weeks of intensive analysis and testing, and concluded that their investigators found no evidence of E. coli O157:H7 inside the factory or on production equipment. Dr. David Acheson, assistant commissioner for food protection at the FDA, confirmed last week that the single positive test for E. coli O157:H7 found in one retention sample of our refrigerated cookie dough did not match the outbreak strain. Dr. Acheson also noted that it is likely there will never be a firm resolution as to the source of the outbreak.
After initiating the voluntary recall, Nestlé worked diligently to bring resolution to this issue. The company worked with teams of Nestlé microbiologists and FDA investigators to test the facility, production equipment, ingredients, processes and finished product. Nestlé also dismantled its production lines for thorough inspection, conducted over 1,000 tests on equipment, ingredients and environment, and carefully reviewed its quality and food safety procedures.
Nestlé put the plant back together again while new lots of ingredients including sugar, flour, eggs and margarine began to arrive in Danville. These new ingredients were sampled and tested by experts at the Nestlé Quality Assurance Center, following the same protocols in use at the FDA. On Tuesday, July 7, Nestlé began a controlled start-up of its Danville operations. Nestlé is planning to resume full production this week.
New Nestlé Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products, which are expected to be back on shelves in mid-August, will be easily identifiable. Shipping cartons will be printed in Nestlé blue to differentiate the new product for retailers, while consumers will be directed to look for a special “New Batch” burst on the packaging. Packaging for the “New Batch” will also include a reminder to consumers to not consume raw cookie dough, and to use safe food handling procedures.