Heat-treated flour soon will be incorporated into Nestlé Toll House refrigerated cookie dough.
In June 2009, Nestlé USA voluntarily recalled refrigerated cookie dough after the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control notified the company they were investigating reports of E. coli illnesses that may have been related to consumption of raw cookie dough. The product was relaunched in August 2009 following a thorough investigation at the Danville facility and implementation of a rigorous testing protocol. The food processor's quality assurance protocol includes testing ingredients before they enter the facility, environmental sampling throughout the facility, and testing of finished product before it is shipped to customers.
Nestlé USA’s Baking Division in Solon, Ohio, decided to augment its process to utilize preheated flour in January after the company informed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that two samples of the dough manufactured at its Danville, Va., plant tested positive for E. coli. According to Nestlé, none of the contaminated product left the factory or entered the food-supply chain.
The process of converting to heat-treated flour resulted in a temporary suspension of production while a new recipe was developed for the now-preheated flour. Production of the new recipe using the preheated flour began in late January, and the cookie dough is expected to begin appearing in grocery stores by early March.
According to Laurie MacDonald from Nestlé USA corporate information, the preheating process is proprietary. She declined to provide further information such as heating temperature, length of time for the heating process, or type of heating equipment used, except to say that "essentially, flour is heated to a temperature sufficient to eliminate potentially harmful microorganisms."
"Consistent with our quality standards for Nestlé Toll House refrigerated cookie dough, this change will only further enhance the safety of our products," said Paul Bakus, general manager, Nestlé USA Baking Group.
Nestlé says it strongly advises consumers against eating raw cookie dough and urges them to bake products before consuming.