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Fast Food & E.Coli

By on January 6, 2016

According to United Press International, in November, Chipotle temporarily closed 43 restaurants in Washington state and Oregon after dozens of diners reported falling ill, contributing to an outbreak that now spans nine states and hundreds of possible cases.

From 1998 to 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified dine-in or drive-up fast-food restaurants as the source of 365 E.coli outbreaks, including 5,624 illnesses, 533 hospitalizations, and three deaths. Here’s a list of some of the largest and most publicized food-borne disease outbreaks at U.S. restaurants.

Notable Fast-Food E. Coli Outbreaks

  • As of December, 2015, the CDC has reported 53 cases of E. coli and at least 20 hospitalizations in nine states linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurants. The outbreak began and peaked in October, with ages of those infected ranging from 1 to 94 years old, with a median age of 21. To date, there have been no hospitalizations or reports of HUS. The investigation has yet to reveal the specific food source linked to the outbreak, due to the geographical diversity of the cases.
  • Burger King officials were forced to sever ties with Arkansas-based beef processor Hudson Foods after it recalled over 25 million pounds of meat, including hamburger patties, that made 16 people ill in Colorado because of food contamination. Before discovering the source of the outbreak, 650 restaurants in 28 states, or one out of four Burger Kings, had to take burgers off the menu.
  • In July of 1999, public health officials confirmed four Cincinnati-area Kentucky Fried Chickens were to blame for an outbreak of E. coli that led to 18 illnesses and at least 11 hospitalizations. Investigators identified poorly prepared coleslaw as the source of the contamination.
  • In December, 2006, 71 illnesses linked to Taco Bell were reported to the CDC from five states: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and South Carolina. Investigations indicated shredded lettuce was the likely source of the outbreak. Two years later, all Taco Bell restaurants in Philadelphia were temporarily closed and green onions removed from all 5,800 of its U.S. restaurants after tests indicated they were to blame for an E. coli outbreak that sickened at least five dozen people in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Separately, The CDC has reported epidemiological evidence collected during an investigation suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states was the likely source of a outbreak.

  • Fourteen (88%) of 16 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco in the week before illness started.