I’m no longer surprised when we get word of an outbreak associated with some new, seemingly innocuous food item.  Cookie dough for Christ’s sake.  Elissa Elan reported this week that Dunkin Doughnuts learned that its supplier of instant non-fat dried milk and whey protein (Plainview Milk Products Cooperative of Plainview, Minn) had detected Salmonella on some of its equipment used to produce the products. 

Good catch.  Salmonella, or any pathogen, on equipment is bad news for consumers.  In some situations, it’s even worse than a single contaminated food item because, while a single contaminated item will pass through the production process and likely sicken a few, a contaminated piece of equipment may contaminate every food item that passes through it.  This means lots of people get sick, sometimes over long periods of time, which can frustrate public health efforts to determine how people are becoming ill. 

Hopefully the problem at Dunkin, or Plainview Milk Products, is taken care of.  Dunkin certainly did the right thing by immediately stopping the sale of any of its products with a Plainview ingredient until the problem there can be fixed.