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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cookie Duh

Nestle recently pulled it’s refrigerated brands of Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough products from stores over concerns of E. coli contamination. The reason being was that consumers ingested some of the raw cookie dough and became sick. Could you imagine being at grandma’s house, baking up a batch of Nestle’s nummy nuggets, and digesting a dollop of dough, not knowing the Escherichia Coli nature of these uncooked chocolate chip chunks?

Is this Stupidity in the Raw? Is there any threat to actually baking this toxic toll house cookie concoction? In a word, maybe. While the possibility for anyone who died, from eating the raw dough, to be nominated for a Darwin exists, there is more afoot here than plain old fashioned moronic activity. Usually, consuming raw cookie dough allows for exposure to Salmonella, not E. coli. Yet, still people continue to chomp on this comfort food while it’s still in its uncooked form. Had people baked the cookies and became sick, the culprit in this case may have gone unnoticed because not many would look at fresh baked cookies to be contaminated. People would be more likely to look at the tomatoes or lettuce in their refrigerator as the usual suspect.

Now, while I would like to complain about the nature of, what could be called, frivolous lawsuits against Nestle because of this issue, Nestle is not without shame in recent years. Looking over the trusted news source that is Wikipedia, a slew of criticisms can be found ranging from price fixing to melamine laced milk. Of course, calling Wikipedia a trusted news source is like calling Faux News a fair and balanced media outlet, but a little more digging into the cited charges can reveal better evidence.

But that doesn’t indemnify either party in this matter. I am as guilty as the rest of the cookie dough fiends of the world. As a wee Mongo, I worked at an amusement park and would often visit friends who worked in a Giant Cookie stand. They would throw me a gob of soon to be baked cookie dough from time to time. It was heaven. Had I ever gotten sick, I would have no one to blame but myself. Still, the nature of these lawsuits stem from becoming sick from an out of the ordinary illness associated with raw cookie dough that has been made from pasteurized ingredients. In this case, kudos to Nestle for taking prompt action on pulling the products from shelves and nuts to those individuals who cry foul when they eat the uncooked morsels.

It’s OK to roast me for my insensitivity over the issue, but when you consider that eating raw cookie dough is a risk associated behavior, you are probably engaging in off label use by consuming it. I don’t have a bag in front of me but I would venture to guess that somewhere on the labeling it says “Do Not Consume Raw Cookie Dough.” If anything, stupidity could be a good thing as people may never have known the extent of this matter had they not gotten sick from raw dough.

Every year we are treated to another food related scandal. Is it the fault of manufacturers going soft on standards and quality control? Is the fault of migrant farm workers not washing up before working in the fields? Is it the fault of the public for not adhering to warning labels? All three are somewhat guilty of being caught with their hand in the cookie jar. How this all plays out over the media is a mystery, yet with every passing year, we face a new threat from our food. M. Night Shyamalan could have been onto something with his milk dud of a film, The Happening. Maybe the world is finally out to get us. Storms rage across the plains, earthquakes and fires ravage our homes, and the food we eat has become a weapon in the war against mankind. However, somewhere in the distance, you can hear the maniacal laughter of a little Dough Boy and there is no finger pushing into his belly. Victory is poppin’ fresh.

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