Authorities investigate Taco Bell outbreaks
Dec 7, 2006 9:02 AM, from staff and wire reports
Taco Bell Corp has removed green onions at all of its approximately 5,800 restaurants nationwide. The move is a precautionary effort after recent E coli 0157:H7 outbreaks believed to be linked to several of its restaurants in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Federal and state authorities were investigating a southern New Jersey food distribution center owned by Temple TX-based McLane Co. The center distributes food to the three-state area's Taco Bell restaurants.
Ready Pac Produce, a processor in that area, also is being investigated by authorities. It handles lettuce, tomatoes, and onions for the restaurant chain. Ready Pac is working with Taco Bell, regulatory agencies, and industry experts to determine the cause of the problem.
A total of 18 Taco Bell restaurants in the three states were closed for decontamination, though some have reopened.
Taco Bell, a unit of Yum Brands Inc, has been working with state and county health department officials in the three states, along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to find the cause of the outbreaks.
While tests are preliminary and inconclusive, three samples of green onions were found to be presumed positive for E coli 0157:H7 by an independent testing laboratory engaged by Taco Bell.
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