Shhh, do not tell a soul which “Mexican-style Fast Food Restaurant” has sickened 68 with Salmonella in 10 states. Really, CDC? Do you think the public “can’t handle the truth?”

According to the CDC report today the CDC collaborated with public health officials in multiple states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections which was associated with eating food from a Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain, Restaurant Chain A. Investigative efforts were unable to identify a specific food associated with illness, but data indicate that contamination likely occurred before the product reached Restaurant Chain A locations. This outbreak now appears to be over.

A widely distributed contaminated food product might cause illnesses in a specific region and across the United States. As of January 19, 2012, a total of 68 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis have been reported from 10 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state with the outbreak strain was as follows: Texas (43), Oklahoma (16), Kansas (2), Iowa (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (1), Ohio (1), and Tennessee (1).

CDC and public health officials in multiple states conducted an epidemiologic study by comparing foods eaten by 48 ill and 103 well persons. Analysis of this study indicates that eating at Mexican-style fast food Restaurant Chain A was associated with illness. Ill persons (62%) were significantly more likely than well persons (17%) to report eating at Restaurant Chain A in the week before illness. No specific food item or ingredient was found to be associated with illness due to common ingredients being used together in many menu items. However, among ill persons eating at Restaurant Chain A, 90% reported eating lettuce, 94% reported eating ground beef, 77% reported eating cheese, and 35% reported eating tomatoes. The epidemic curve seen in the outbreak is consistent with those observed in past produce-related outbreaks—with a sharp increase and decline of ill persons that spanned one to two months. Ground beef was an unlikely source due to the handling and cooking processes used by Restaurant Chain A.

By the way, a quick search of the CDC website for the term “Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain, Restaurant Chain A” is the Salmonella Hartford and Salmonella Baildon outbreaks that were linked to Taco Bell.  I’ll leave you with a video: