Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Still Searching for E.Coli Source at Taco Bell

Article in the New York Times -- With Onions No Longer the Top Suspect, the Search for E. Coli Resumes, by Andrew Martin.  The article notes that there are at least 466 confirmed or suspected cases of E.coli related to Taco Bell.  Here's an excerpt:

Nearly two weeks ago, on Nov. 30, Taco Bell officials learned that several customers had become sick with a virulent strain of E. coli after eating at one of the chain’s restaurants in New Jersey.

By the following Monday, Dec. 4, it became clear that the outbreak was spreading beyond that restaurant, in South Plainfield in central New Jersey, and Taco Bell issued its first public statement, saying it had closed nine restaurants in New Jersey and New York.

Two days later, Taco Bell appeared to have a major break: Preliminary tests by a private laboratory showed that green onions were the probable culprit, and it ordered them out of all 5,800 restaurants nationwide. Now, almost a week after saying they had zeroed in on a possible cause of the outbreak, investigators say that those early indications appear to be wrong and that they may never learn the cause with certainty.

More sophisticated testing of the green onion samples — the required next step — actually found no traces of E. coli O157:H7. Although additional testing continues, the authorities now say the source of the E. coli outbreak could be any number of ingredients used by Taco Bell, but probably not onions.

An article in the Washington Post -- Lettuce Suspected in Taco Bell E. Coli, by Andrew Bridges of the Associated Press -- notes that interviews with the ill indicated that lettuce may be the source of the E.coli.


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