Foodborne Illness Outbreak Database

This database provides summaries of significant food and water related outbreaks occurring since 1984 caused by E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter and other pathogens. Read more »

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Taco Bell Restaurants Lettuce 2006

An outbreak of E.coli O157:H7 occurred in the Northeastern United States. Ill persons ate at Taco Bell Restaurants. At first green onions were implicated by the Centers for Disease Control; later lettuce was suspected. Ill persons ate a variety of food items at the restaurants. Public health investigators identified a few ingredients that were consumed more often by ill persons than well persons and were statistically linked with illness. These items included: lettuce; cheddar cheese; ground beef. Onions of any type were not linked to this outbreak, however a sample of chopped, yellow onion tested positive for E.coli O157: H7; this was not the outbreak strain. E.coli O157:H7 was not found in the other food items that were tested. The investigators gathered additional information about the location of the restuarants, patterns of food ingredient distribution, and the characteristics and preparation of the food ingredients. Evaluation of this data indicated that shredded lettuce was the most likely source of the outbreak. Because multiple Taco Bell restaurants were involved during the same time period, contamination of lettuce likely occurred before reaching the restaurants. A traceback failed to identify a farm source or risks factors for lettuce contamination.

  • Outbreak began:
  • November 2006
  • Affected Country:
  • US
  • Affected States/Territories:
  • New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, South Carolina
  • Organism(s):
  • E. coli O157:H7
  • Vehicle(s):
  • Vegetable, Leafy Greens, Shredded Lettuce, iceberg
  • Molecular Results Available:
  • Yes
  • Test Results:
  • Unknown
  • Location(s):
  • Restaurant
  • Brand Name(s):
  • None
  • Product Subject to Recall:
  • No
  • Total ill:
  • 78
  • Number ill by Case Definition Known:
  • Yes
  • Number Laboratory Confirmed Cases:
  • 67
  • Number Probable Cases:
  • 0
  • Number Possible Cases:
  • 0
  • Anyone Hospitalized:
  • Yes
  • Number Hospitalized:
  • 55
  • Any Deaths:
  • No
  • Number Dead:
  • 0

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