As for E. coli in cookie dough, that's still a puzzler

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5:24 PM, July 9, 2009

The strain of bacterium found recently at a Nestle's plant in Virginia is not actually the same as the strain blamed for an outbreak of illnesses in 30 states.

The FDA made the announcement today, and production at the plant is reportedly ramping back up. Here's a new AP story and a slightly fuller one from ABC News, the second of which brings a third strain of E. coli into the picture.

And perhaps more relevant considering the scarcity of facts, the list of recalled products, the Food and Drug Administration's basic page on the topic, plus one from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But if you're wondering how the investigators ended up pointing the finger at cookie dough in the first place, here's an informative blog post from a CDC officer investigating this outbreak. She writes: "There are no short cuts. We talk to the patients, we look at the combined information, and we generate hypotheses about the cause. Then we can refine our questions and go back to the patients again to see which hypothesis holds true." 

And, as a bonus, here's Michael Jacobson, executive director of the nutrition watchdog Center for Science in the Public Interest, expressing outrage over Nestle's alleged recalcitrance in cooperating with the FDA during inspections at the plant in question.

And in other food safety news this week: "Administration moves to bolster food safety net."

None of which explains the source of the E. coli blamed in the outbreak.

-- Tami Dennis




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