Salmonella Outbreak in 2011 Linked to Taco Bell

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Taco Bell Salmonella OutbreakThis week the Food Safety News revealed Taco Bell to be the identity of “Restaurant Chain A” that caused 68 people to be sickened with Salmonella enteritidis in October and November 2011.

Across 10 different states people were infected with the Salmonella Enteritidis strain including; Texas 43, Oklahoma 16, Kansas 2, Iowa 1, Michigan 1, Missouri 1, Nebraska 1, New Mexico 1, Ohio 1, and Tennessee 1. In an interview with eight out of twelve people admitted to eating Taco Bell during their Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak period. Salmonella can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and other symptoms.

In the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on January 19, they said that 60 percent of the people who were infected with Salmonella Enteritidis reported they ate at a single Mexican restaurant chain. At which the CDC started called Restaurant Chain A. The CDC didn’t reveil Taco Bells name because the Salmonella outbreak had ended. They wanted to keep their relationship with the fast food chain.

A FDA spokesperson told ABC News, “Companies voluntarily share information with CDC and FDA, so when we publish company or brand names and there is not a public health need to do, it could have the effect of discouraging such cooperation between our agencies and the food industry.”

Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University says that when there is nothing the public can do about an outbreak, there is no need for the CDC to publicize the companies name. “It’s generally the practice of the CDC to go to the media and publicize outbreaks when there’s something the public needs to do, but in those circumstances when there’s nothing to do, then there’s no need to publicize the name. In any restaurant after the outbreak is over, when there’s no longer any hazard associated with eating there, the only thing to gain from giving out the name of the restaurant is that it would lose business.”

Taco Bell released a statement saying, “Fortunately, the CDC said the public is not at any risk and this incident from late last year is completely over. While the CDC was unable to identify the food source of this outbreak, they believe the problem most likely occurred at a supplier before it was delivered to any food outlet. Some people who were ill ate at our restaurants, while others did not. We don’t know what the source of this problem was, but we continue to review our supply procedures for any possible improvement. If we ever learn of any threat to public safety of course we will be the first to act swiftly with the CDC. We want to reassure our customers that we take food quality and safety very seriously.”


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