More Cookie Dough Questions

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The story thus far:

From January to June 2009, at least 69 people from 29 states have gotten sick with E. coli O157:H7. Many of them confessed to eating Nestlé's raw cookie dough.

On June 19, the FDA warned the public not to eat Nestlé's raw cookie dough. Nestlé issued a "voluntary" recall.

Everyone is baffled about how E. coli O157:H7 could have gotten into cookie dough. They wonder if cookie dough really is the cause.

"Voluntary" is a euphemism for not having to do anything.

The voluntary recall isn't working (most don't). Obama Foodorama has no trouble finding plenty of recalled cookie dough on Washington DC shelves.

The Wall Street Journal reports that since 2006, Nestlé has consistently refused to allow FDA investigators to look at their safety records. The company doesn't have to. All those pesky regulatory requirements are voluntary (that word again).

But now, in a spirit of someone more enforced cooperation, Nestlé lets the FDA in. Bingo. On June 29, the FDA says it finds E. coli O157:H7 in one batch of cookie dough. But conversations with FDA officials leave many questions unanswered.

Nestlé is understandably concerned. The company says it "deeply regrets" what happened and is fully cooperating with the FDA.

OK. So if we didn't know it before, we know it now: "voluntary" is a euphemism for not having to do anything. Doesn't this suggest the need for some real regulations?

For more from Marion Nestle on the cookie dough recall, click here and here.

Presented by

Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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