Taco Bell E. coli Outbreak Probed
Taco Bell Pulls Green Onions from U.S. Restaurants as a Precaution
WebMD News Archive
Dec. 7, 2006 -- Taco Bell, the CDC, and the FDA are investigating an E.
coli outbreak possibly linked to green onions at Taco Bell restaurants
that may have sickened at least 47 people in four states.
Taco Bell has removed green onions at all of its approximately 5,800
restaurants in the U.S. The move is "strictly a precautionary effort"
based on preliminary tests, states Taco Bell in a Dec. 6 news release.
"In an abundance of caution, we've decided to pull all green onions from
our restaurants until we know conclusively whether they are the cause of the
E. coli outbreak," says Taco Bell president Greg Creed in the news
E. coli is bacterium. There are hundreds of strains of E.
The strain seen in the Taco Bell cases is E. coli 0157:H7, which
can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea, often with bloody
Most healthy adults recover from E. coli infection in about a week.
But E. coli infection can have serious complications, including a form
of kidney failure
called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
Probable cases tied to the outbreak have been reported in New Jersey, New
York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, with suspected cases in Connecticut, the FDA
At least 35 people have been hospitalized, three of whom have HUS, according
to the FDA.
Illness onset dates range from Nov. 20 through Dec. 2, according to the
"The vast majority of patients reported eating at a particular fast food
restaurant chain, Taco Bell," the CDC states in a Dec. 6 news release.
Preliminary tests done by a company hired by Taco Bell suggest that three
samples of green onions may have been contaminated with E. coli
0157:H7, according to Taco Bell.
Those results aren't conclusive. Investigators are also looking at other
possible sources of E. coli infection.
Taco Bell has set up a toll-free phone number, (800) TACO-BELL, for
customers or employees with questions about the outbreak.