Maybe it’s not so “worry free” after all. Dō — Greenwich Village’s jam-packed shop that peddles raw cookie dough — has been slapped with a class-action lawsuit arguing that its Über-Instagrammed sweets are causing food-borne illnesses. This is unfortunate in a “Death Wish Coffee might actually cause death” sort of way. The FDA is constantly finger-wagging about raw cookie dough, and Dō’s claim to fame is that founder Kristen Tomlan’s supposedly magical formula means there’s no need to stress about this cookie dough. She makes hers with heat-treated flour and a pasteurized egg product, eliminating any threat of the dough carrying disease. Dō’s website has an entire section boldly reiterating this claim: The process “means NO chance of food-borne illness or the risk that comes along with eating raw flour products,” but rather just “worry-free treats you can’t get sick from!”
The two plaintiffs argue that’s not true. Julia Canigiani and Katherine Byrne say they ate different things — a scoop of oatmeal dough with M&M’s, and a “Sandōwich” (an ice-cream sandwich involving “cookies” made from frozen raw dough). Canigiani says that “within approximately 15 minutes,” she began “experiencing stomach pains.” (That would, admittedly, be a pretty rapid onset.) Last summer’s FDA warning to never again eat raw dough followed an especially nasty E. coli outbreak. Canigiani’s stomachache was almost definitely not from that, since the incubation period typically takes several days. But that’s true of almost every bacterium. Regardless, according to the lawsuit, her stomachache worsened, and by nighttime she was vomiting and had diarrhea. Byrne says she suffered stomach problems, nausea, and heartburn. To show it’s a common problem, the lawsuit also cites eight Yelp reviews in which users complain of issues after eating Dō’s products.
Canigiani and Byrne accuse the company of fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment, and note that the damages “exceed” $5 million. Their attorney adds that they were excited to “try the social-media buzzworthy products,” but were “obviously disappointed” once their raw dough didn’t live up to the hype that “one would not get sick.” In a statement from a representative, Dō says that it “stands behind the safety of our products” and that it will “fully and faithfully defend ourselves against any and all false accusations.”
This post has been updated to include information from Dō’s statement.