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Taco Bell Salmonella Outbreak: Investigation Pins Blame On Yum Brands Chain


First Posted: 02/ 2/2012 10:27 am Updated: 02/ 7/2012 3:52 pm

Earlier this week, HuffPost Food wrote that Food Safety News had been investigating an unusually large outbreak of salmonella originating at an unnamed Mexican chain with locations throughout middle America. FSN did a bunch of legwork to try and dig up the identity of the restaurant -- and today, their work finally paid off.

The culprit was Taco Bell.

The Yum Brands chain had looked like the most likely culprit for some time; of the four chains with locations in all or almost all of the affected states, it had by far the most outposts. And it has a history of salmonella.

But it took Freedom of Infortmation Act requests and dogged pursuit by FSN reporters to get to the bottom of the story. Ultimately, the information came from a document FSN editor-in-chief Dan Flynn acquired from the Oklahoma State Department Of Health.

What's wrong with this picture? Why is the CDC covering for Taco Bell? Could it have to do, possibly, with the hundreds of thousands of dollars Yum Brands spends on lobbying every month?

UPDATE 2/2: Taco Bell has released a statement in response to the salmonella outbreak allegations. Here's the full text:

“The CDC has stated the public health is not at any risk and this incident is completely over. They have not identified the food source of the food borne illness that occurred in October and November of 2011. The CDC indicated that some of the people who were ill ate at Taco Bell, while others did not. They believe that the problem likely occurred at the supplier level before it was delivered to any restaurant or food outlet. We take food quality and safety very seriously.”

UPDATE 2/7: Food Safety News published yet more evidence yesterday that Taco Bell is the culprit here. Their reporters tracked down a document from a different state altogether -- Michigan -- that confirmed the identity of Restaurant Chain A as Taco Bell.

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Filed by Joe Satran  |  Report Corrections