In light of the recent nationwide salmonella outbreak involving contaminated peanut butter, Dough-To-Go, a Santa Clara based cookie company, has voluntarily recalled items used in fundraisers from January of 2007 to January of 2009.
The California Health Department released a statement on Jan. 28 that identified 162 public and private schools that might have sold contaminated products. The list includes six local schools: Ron Nunn Elementary, Loma Vista Elementary and Bristow Middle School of the Brentwood Union School District; Laurel and Gehringer elementary schools of the Oakley Union School District; and Discovery Bay Elementary of the Byron Union School District.
Dana Eaton, BUSD director of student services, said the announcement of the recall occurred after school hours, but letters were promptly prepared to be sent out the next day.
“We jumped on it and had letters ready by the following morning,” Eaton said. “No illnesses have been reported from our district. This was a voluntary recall. None of the cookie dough sold at our schools is believed to be contaminated, but we wanted to remain cautious. This is a serious matter.
“When the news first broke about salmonella contamination, we pulled all peanut butter products from our cafeterias as a precaution. That is our procedure for when these types of things happen. It’s always a scary thing and you can never be too careful.”
Ron Nunn Principal Scott Vernoy said it was important for a letter to be sent home even though there were no suspected risks. “Our fundraiser was held at the beginning of the school year, back in October or so. People who purchased the cookie dough probably have consumed it by now, but it is important to get the message out just to be on the safe side.”
While Discovery Bay Elementary posted the recall announcement in the weekly newsletter that goes to parents, the OUSD decided to handle the situation by hitting the phone lines.
Anne Allen, principal of Laurel Elementary, said the Parents Club obtained a list of all the students who sold cookie dough and then all the parents were called to inform them of the recall. “We called every parent who bought cookie dough. No one has been reported sick, but we didn’t want to risk the health of any of our families, so we notified parents right away.”
Betsy Lee Sanders, president of Dough-To-Go, said in an e-mail that only the peanut butter products from the fundraisers have been recalled. While she doesn’t believe that her company sold any tainted products, she supports the recall. “Not a single person has become sick from eating our product. The voluntary recall was made because this peanut butter was made in the same facility (from which the contaminated products originated), but the peanut butter paste is the culprit, as I understand it, and we do not use that product. We felt it was better to be safe than sorry.”
Although no illnesses have been associated with Dough-To-Go products, California Department of Public Health Director Mark Horton urged customers to dispose of the fundraiser cookie dough as a safety measure.
On Jan. 7, the Centers for Disease Control identified 388 people who had consumed peanut butter products originating at the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Georgia and who had been infected with salmonella bacteria. At press time, 654 cases of salmonella have been reported nationwide; 76 in California. While peanut butter products sold in major retail stores are believed to be safe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that consumers dispose of any peanut butter products whose origin cannot be determined.
For information about the Dough-To-Go recall, call the California Health Department Office of Public Affairs at 916-440-7259. For more information about the salmonella outbreak, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site, www.fda.gov, or call the hotline at 800-220-2339.