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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Taco Bell Salmonella Outbreak – Perhaps Ingredient is a 10-letter word for financial disaster?

VegetableStock.jpgLast week I gave a speech at IAFP – “Is Ingredient a 10-letter word for financial disaster?” At the time we had been monitoring what appeared to be a nationwide Salmonella outbreak involving two rare strains – Baildon and Hartford. We were somewhat unclear as to the source, but several of the people who contacted us did eat at Taco Bells in the days before they became ill, however, some either could not recall or believed that they had not. But, then came the CDC’s mysterious announcement of “Mexican Restaurant A” as part of a 21 state outbreak and things became clearer. Yet, again, however, even the CDC commented that ill people may not have eaten at Taco Bell. Given that people who became ill with either strain ate at various restaurants AND not at Taco Bell, that damn 10-letter word keeps popping back up – “ingredient!”

Here are Taco Bell ingredient outbreaks that we have been involved in during the last 10 years:

Taco Bell Salmonella (to be determined) Outbreak – 2010

A total of 75 individuals infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Hartford have been reported from 15 states since April 1, 2010. The number of ill people identified in each state with this strain is as follows: CO (1), GA (1), IL (5), IN (11), KY (23), MA (2), MI (3), MT (1), NC (1), NH (1), NY (1), OH (19), PA (1), SC (1) and WI (4). Among those for whom information is available about when symptoms started, illnesses began between April 30, 2010 and July 18, 2010. Case-patients range in age from <1 to 80 years old, and the median age is 39 years. Fifty-seven percent of patients are female. Among the 47 patients with available hospitalization information, 15 (32 %) were hospitalized.

A total of 80 individuals infected with a matching strain of Salmonella Baildon have been reported from 15 states since May 1, 2010. The number of ill people identified in each state with this strain is as follows: CT (1), GA (1), IA (1), IL (20), IN (4), KY (5), MA (1), MI (4), MN (5), NJ (6), NY (2), OH (6), OR (1), WA (1) and WI (22). Among those for whom information is available about when symptoms started, illnesses began between May 11, 2010 and July 19, 2010. Case-patients range in age from 1 to 82 years old, and the median age is 47 years. Seventy-four percent of patients are female. Among the 68 patients with available hospitalization information, 27 (40 %) were hospitalized.

Taco Bell Hepatitis A Green Onion Outbreak – 2000

CDC that Hepatitis A outbreak investigations were also underway in Russell County, Kentucky and Clark County, Nevada. Taco Bell green onions would soon be implicated in these outbreaks as well.

Taco Bell E. coli Lettuce Outbreak – 2006

This outbreak was clearly linked to Taco Bell restaurants in the northeastern United States. As of December 14, 2006, Thursday, 71 persons with illness associated with the Taco Bell restaurant outbreak have been reported to CDC from 5 states: New Jersey (33), New York (22), Pennsylvania (13), Delaware (2), and South Carolina (1). States with Taco Bell restaurants where persons confirmed to have the outbreak strain have eaten are New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. (The patient from South Carolina ate at a Taco Bell restaurant in Pennsylvania). Other cases of illness are under investigation by state public health officials. Among these 71 ill persons, 53 (75%) were hospitalized and 8 (11%) developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS).