We have been investigating several seemingly unrelated E. coli O157:H7 illnesses that may not be so unrelated.  There are 63 confirmed illnesses possibly linked to Nestle’s Toll House Cookies.  Before you say, "No way, cookies can’t be contaminated" or "E. coli is just a ground beef problem," realize that if these illnesses are, in fact, linked to cookies, it wouldn’t be the first time that a sweet treat turned lethal.

On June 30, 2005 the Minnesota Department of Health notified the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that four cases of Salmonella Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) with an indistinguishable Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) subtype (CDC PulseNet pattern JPXX01.1173) had been identified. The only common exposure among the four ill individuals was that all had eaten at one of two Cold Stone Creamery stores. All cases had eaten cake batter flavor ice cream in the week before onset of symptoms.

We represented several injured people in the outbreak, including a young girl named Diana Mckune, who suffered a particularly severe Salmonella infection.  It landed her in Seattle Children’s Hospital for a week.  Fortunately for Diana, she wasn’t part of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.  Had she eaten E. coli-laden cookies, we may have handled her wrongful death action. 

Only time, and some good epi work, will tell the truth about Nestle cookies and E. coli O157:H7.