Writes ABC News on Nov. 13: “His mother died an agonizing death, possibly because she ate a few bites of raw cookie dough years earlier. Richard Simpson, of Las Vegas, recounted his mom’s painful battle with E. coli today at an FDA hearing about stricter regulations on food production.”
Simpson is now speaking out in the hopes that stronger warnings will accompany raw cookie packages and pre-baked treats. Describing the incident to an FDA panel in Maryland Thursday, Simpson said his mom only had a “couple bites” of the contaminated dough, but her body immediately started to shut down.
“She was cuddled up on the ground and we rushed her to the hospital…we found out that they had to do surgery right away,” Simpson said as he described how he and his father found 58-year-old Linda. “She had kidney failure, liver failure, her heart stopped three times, they had to put her on adrenaline to get it going again.”
Over the next four years, lingering effects of the bacteria being inside of her would lead to countless hospital visits, additional surgeries and a compromised immune system. “It was fight after fight after fight after surgery after surgery after fight,” recounted Simpson, adding that his mother’s death spurred on “a dream of ours to prevent others from going through this.”
Rivera’s friend and attorney Bill Marler, according to the Inquisitr, said of Linda: “Eventually, her body just couldn’t take it. She was probably the most severely injured E. coli victim I have ever seen. She suffered brain injury. She had quite a large section of her large intestines removed. She suffered so many infections while hospitalized it was incredible. She was on a ventilator for several months in a coma. She was a very sick lady.” Nestle settled with the family for an undisclosed sum of money.
“You watch a commercial, you go into a store and you just assume it’s okay to eat,” Linda’s husband Richard Rivera told the Washington Post in 2009. “I assume if it’s on a shelf, it’s safe. But this whole thing has changed the way I look at food.”
According to the Daily Mail, Simpson’s family “is now fighting to make changes to the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act which would include updates that would more effectively stop the spread of E. coli bacteria.” The FDA is expected to announce whether or not changes will be made to their regulations, signed by President Obama into law in January of 2011.
At the time, Nestle issued the following statement on Rivera’s death:
The fact that our product was implicated in Linda Rivera’s 2009 illness and tragic passing was obviously of grave concern to all of us at Nestle. Since then, we have implemented more stringent testing and inspection of raw materials and finished product to ensure the product meets our high quality standards. In addition, we have switched to using heat-treated flour to further enhance safety. We continue to emphasize that the cookie dough should be consumed only after baking and not eaten raw.
Just how safe is eating raw cookie dough? Many uncooked food products can potentially contain E. coli, and cookie dough, containing raw eggs, may also be a carrier of salmonella. However, FoodBeast writes that “as long as you keep your eggs at or below 45 degrees, your eggs will be safe. At these temperatures the salmonella bacteria can’t grow. It’s when you leave eggs out on the counter or at unsafe temperatures that you should start worrying. Even if you did ingest a little salmonella the chances that you’ll get sick are still relatively low… salmonella doesn’t do so well in a healthy human intestinal tract, where they have to compete with thousands of other bacteria for nutrients.”
Sound off below: Despite the relatively low risk of E. coli or salmonella, do you dip your digits into the mixing bowl for a few chunks of raw cookie dough?