I spent time yesterday visiting with a feisty “50 something” woman and her adoring husband (they have six kids) in a Nevada hospital as she spent her 50th day hospitalized with severe complication of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome from an E. coli O157:H7 infection linked directly to Nestlé Cookie Dough. For a woman who has lost part of her large intestine, is still on dialysis, and is learning to walk again, her spirit was amazing. Still on a feeding tube and between retching because of ongoing gastroenterological problems, she still was able to lovingly tease her husband and make a lawyer feel welcome. The husband kept saying, "I would not wish this on my worst enemy."
I was stuck at their lack of anger towards Nestlé whose product contained a bacteria that has nearly taken her life and for a government that over the years failed to protect the public. I am not sure they will feel the same after they read Jane Zhang’s article in this mornings Wall Street Journal – “Nestlé Unit Denied FDA Requests.” Here are excerpts:
The Nestlé USA plant at the center of a federal probe into an E. coli outbreak involving cookie dough refused to give inspectors access to pest-control records, environmental-testing programs and other information, according to newly released inspection reports covering the past five years.
In a September 2006 visit, for example, managers at the Danville, Va., plant refused to allow a Food and Drug Administration inspector to review consumer complaints or inspect its program designed to prevent food contamination. The inspector found dirty equipment and "three live ant-like insects" on a ledge but nothing severe enough to give the plant a failing grade.
A year earlier, officials at the Nestlé plant presented another FDA inspector with a list of things it wouldn’t do. "Among these are the refusal to review the firm’s consumer complaint file, refusal to permit photography, refusal to sign affidavits or receipts and refusal to provide specific information on interstate commerce," the inspector wrote.
Companies aren’t required to show those records to FDA inspectors and Nestlé’s practice isn’t out of line with the rest of the food industry, FDA and industry officials said.
When will companies realize that it really is a bad idea to poison customers? When will government realize that standing up for consumers is the right thing to do? And, when will us taxpayers realize that we need to compel our lawmakers to pass laws and regulations, and then to spend the money necessary to protect the public?