Saudi Arabia has stopped the sale of Nestle dough products at its stores and restaurants due to a possible E. coli contamination, according to reports, less than a month after a similar outbreak in the US. The move by the country's ministry of municipal and rural affairs is related to the recent outbreak in the US, where Nestle USA voluntarily recalled its Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products on June 19 after those who ate the raw product became ill, according to Fadi Sahyoun, the communications manager for Nestle Middle East.
Mr Sahyoun said there should be no cause for concern in the GCC. Immediately after the recall last month in the US, Nestle Middle East notified all local government departments across the GCC of the possible contamination, he said. E. coli had not been identified in any Nestle products, but the company had issued a voluntary recall as a precaution, a company statement said. Mr Sahyoun said Nestle Middle East did not import any Toll House products into the region. Rather, they were brought into the region by a local distributor.
The refrigerated dough products were imported to Bahrain last year by the distributor, who was informed of the recall, Nestle Middle East said in a statement. "We assisted all the municipalities, so they were all aware," Mr Sahyoun said. "It was barely present in the UAE. One or two stores got it through direct imports but it was immediately recalled, as they were notified by the municipalities. Action was immediately taken."
Nestle Middle East said no other Nestle Toll House products in the region were affected. The contaminated Toll House Cookie Dough in the US led to at least 66 reports of illness across 28 states. About 25 people were admitted to hospital, but there were no fatalities. The US Food and Drug Administration instructed consumers to throw away prepackaged, refrigerated Nestle Toll House cookie dough as a precaution. Retailers and restaurants were also ordered to stop the sale of the products.
In December, Saudi Arabian authorities also warned consumers about potentially dangerous Nestle milk powder. The kingdom's food and drug authority warned of harmful melamine traces in the milk powder made in Nestle's plant in China. Nestle denied the claims. "All Nestle dairy products sold in Saudi Arabia, just as anywhere in the world, are absolutely safe for consumption," Nestle said in a statement. "No Nestle product is made from milk adulterated with melamine."
Saudi Arabian authorities said concentrations of the industrial chemical were found in the 400-gram pack of Nesvita Pro Bones, which was produced on May 6 last year. It also said it found the industrial chemical in earlier batches of the same brand, in 1,800 gram and 900 gram packs produced on Nov 19 2007 and Feb 25 last year. * with agencies firstname.lastname@example.org