Nestle responds to Wall Street Journal claims

by Eric Schroeder
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SOLON, OHIO — Nestle USA on Friday issued a statement saying it always cooperates with regulatory authorities wherever it operates. The response followed the publication of a story earlier in the day in The Wall Street Journal citing inspection reports that claim Nestle did not allow the Food and Drug Administration access to certain records.

According to the WSJ, the Nestle Danville, Va., plant at the center of the E. coli outbreak refused to give F.D.A. inspectors access to pest control records, environmental testing programs and other information in reports covering the past five years. But Nestle maintained it is cooperating fully with the current investigation and said its practices are in line with the rest of the food industry.

"The situation described in the June 26th edition of The Wall Street Journal bears no relation to Nestle’s recent voluntary withdrawal of Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough," Nestle said. "Nestle always fully cooperates with the regulatory authorities wherever it operates, and Nestle is fully cooperating with the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) at our Danville, Va., plant in this matter. To date, no E.coli 0157:H7 has been found in our plant or in any Nestle product.

"Nestle rejects The Wall Street Journal’s implication that it did not cooperate with the F.D.A. Nestle simply provided the F.D.A. with all information required under the law. As the article points out, Nestle’s practice is standard within the food industry. Furthermore, during the routine inspection of the Danville plant in September 2006, we passed the inspection — no food safety issues were identified.

"It is our standard policy to provide the F.D.A. and other government agencies access during routine inspections to all reports that are required by law. Nestle continues to fully cooperate with the F.D.A. on this ongoing investigation, and is openly sharing all requested information."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69 individuals have been infected with a strain of E. coli O157:H7 linked to refrigerated cookie dough through June 25. Of those infected, 46 have been confirmed by an advanced DNA test as having the outbreak strain.

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