The Mexican fast food chain Taco Bell has now been connected to an outbreak of salmonella that occurred in October and November of last year and affected some 68 people across 10 states, according to a report published by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While the CDC had for legal reasons initially refused to positively identify the food chain under investigation–calling it instead simply “Restaurant A” in its initial reports–Food Safety News reported on Thursday that the suspect chain was in fact Taco Bell, citing official documentation obtained from the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Drawing on information from a January 19 CDC report, Taco Bell has said it believes that the infected food most likely originated at the supplier level and was not due to any unsafe practices in the restaurants themselves.
“We take food quality and safety very seriously,” read a press release from the company Wednesday evening.
Investigators believe that the surge of salmonella infections began in mid-October and continued through November. There were illnesses related to the food-borne bacteria reported in states as geographically dispersed as Texas, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma–one of several factors that led investigators to believe that the problem occurred at the supply level before the questionable food even made it into restaurants.
No deaths were reported roughly a third of the affected patients had to hospitalized, according to the CDC.
The CDC estimates that approximately one in six Americans become ill each year from food-borne contagions, of which approximately 3,000 result in death.
Salmonella infections typically last four to seven days and are usually accompanied by fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.
The Taco Bell brand has suffered in recent years thanks to a series of bacterial outbreaks.
In 2006, some 71 people became infected with a strain of E. coli that the CDC said originated in a batch of contaminated lettuce served by Taco Bell restaurants in the northeastern United States.
And in 2010, the Mexican restaurant was also linked to two large salmonella outbreaks that sickened over 150 people across 21 states.
As if the bacterial outbreaks weren´t damaging enough to the fast-food chain´s image, the 2011 outbreak came hard on the heels of a flippant but reputation-damaging lawsuit over the content of the restaurant´s ground beef.
Taco Bell is a subsidiary of Yum Brand Inc, the world´s largest fast food restaurant corporation. The Fortune 500 company also licenses or operates KFC, Pizza Hut and WingStreet.
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