Sunday, December 10, 2006

Over 60 Sickened from Taco Bell E. Coli

Article in the New York Times -- Taco Bell E. Coli Tests Clear Most Foods, by the Associated Press:

Taco Bell announced Saturday tests have ruled out all its ingredients except one -- scallions -- as a possible source of a harsh strain of E. coli that has sickened more than 60 people in the Northeast.

The green onions had been pulled from the company's 5,800 restaurants nationwide on Wednesday after it said preliminary tests showed scallion samples contained the E. coli strain, and it no longer plans to sell them, said Rob Poetsch, a spokesman for the Irvine, Calif.-based company.

Poetsch said samples from the company's entire menu were collected from multiple restaurants in several states for the independent testing done by Certified Laboratories in Plainview, N.Y.

Another interesting article in yesterday's New York Times -- E. Coli Fears Inspire a Call for Oversight, by Marian Burros -- which details moves by the produce industry asking for greater government regulation:

Facing a loss of consumer confidence in fresh fruits and vegetables because of repeated outbreaks of food-borne illness, three major produce industry groups have for the first time called for government regulation in an industry that until now has had none.

One of the groups, Western Growers, says it has gone further, meeting over the past six weeks with state officials in California to draw up an agreement that would call for a formal system of farm inspections, regulations of water and soil quality and sanitation and even cease-and-desist orders for violations.

The agreement may be ready by spring, said Tim Chelling, vice president of communications for the group, which represents growers in California and Arizona who account for half the nation’s produce. “Anyone who ignores this,” Mr. Chelling said, “will be out of business.”


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