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Taco Bell’s E. Coli Woes

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, December 5, 2006

The recent news that Yum Brands’ quick-serve Mexican concept Taco Bell was implicated in an E. coli outbreak was, of course, distressing. Although, so far, they have not identified the dangerous E. coli H0157:H7 strain found during the spinach crisis, many people have been hospitalized with some developing the hemolytic uremic syndrome that could lead to permanent kidney damage.

Although initially discovered in central New Jersey, the outbreak was found in Long Island restaurants as well.

Although chopped meat is a conduit for E. coli, Taco Bell uses only pre-cooked meat. This is leading food safety experts to speculate that the cause of this problem may be an infected employee or employees. However, the fact that it has been linked to outlets in two states indicates it wouldn’t be a store-level employee.

Tacos also contain shredded lettuce, which could be a route of contamination. We could do without that particular problem this week.

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