Throughout October and November, 68 people in 10 states came down with salmonella. That's a drop in the 48 million-strong bucket of people estimated to get food poisoning every year -- with one caveat: all 68 got sick after eating at the same widespread chain of Mexican restaurants.
The CDC has so far refused to release the name of the chain. They've identified it only as "Restaurant Chain A."
Lucky for our health, our friends at Food Safety News aren't willing to let the CDC's obfuscation stand. For the past week or so, they've been investigating multiple avenues to try to identify "Restaurant Chain A."
They're getting closer and closer to the truth. First, using geography, they narrowed the possible culprits down to Taco Bell, Chipotle, Qdoba, Del Taco, Taco John's and Taco Del Mar. They got ironclad denials from Qdoba and Chipotle. So that leaves the four chains with "taco" in their names, which have all refused comment so far.
Food Safety News noted that Taco Bell has a history of serious salmonella outbreaks, making them credible as the perpetrators this time. But it would be a particularly bad time for the chain to be caught spreading disease. Taco Bell has recently been trying to recover from a bum couple years by repositioning itself as a high-quality competitor to Chipotle.
This article initially mentioned that 128,000 people are estimated to get food poisoning every year. This is incorrect; 128,000 are hospitalized every year after contracting food poisoning, while a full 48 million get food poisoning.