The Mexican-style fast food chain referred to only as “Restaurant Chain A” in a report on a 10-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is Taco Bell, Food Safety News has learned.

While Taco Bell was suspected ever since the CDC’s outbreak report was issued on January 19, confirmation that the chain was central to the investigation comes in a document from the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Acute Disease Service titled, “Summary of Supplemental Questionnaire Responses Specific to Taco Bell Exposure of Oklahoma Outbreak associated cases Multistate Salmonella Enterititis Outbreak Investigation.”

Oklahoma, with 16 confirmed cases, was second only to Texas in the number of illnesses connected to the outbreak.  Ill Oklahomans reported onset dates from Oct. 21 to Nov. 18, 2011.

Half of Oklahoma’s 16 victims specifically reported consuming food at a Taco Bell outlet.  Four others either refused to complete the supplemental case-control questionnaire or were not available for follow-up.

CDC initially declined to name Taco Bell, saying there was no public health reason to do so. At the time of its report, CDC said a total of 68 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis had been reported from 10 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state with the outbreak strain was as follows: Texas (43), Oklahoma (16), Kansas (2), Iowa (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (1), Ohio (1), and Tennessee (1).

Food Safety News has contacted Taco Bell repeatedly over the past week but has yet to receive a comment from the company.

Taco Bell has 5,600 fast food Mexican-style outlets in the United States with 36.8 million weekly customers.  It is a unit of Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM).

  • John

    I would bet my life savings that Taco Bell gets their lettuce from mexico, where the untreated sewage flows freely. If even the tap water will make you sick, then what quality of water do you think they are spraying on their crops?

  • Lamar Carnes

    Public restaurants and fast food chains are “not using organic type products” which are the safest around. They buy, purchase and use products which are all tainted to some degree, because they are sprayed with various pesticides, full of additives which are chemical products that produce all types of reactions to our bodies, but they don’t care at all . Money is the bottom line not health and safety. They could raise the pricing just a little and use healthy type foods and additives rather than chemicsl such as MSG, Sulfates, even fertilizer products are put in food for preserving them. This nation is sick from the food it eats and which is sold by money hungry people who love money more than any thing else in their life!

  • Hector Chaparro

    John you need to get some facts straight and some education, 90% of their lettuce is from california the other part is from the other states.
    Education Education

  • Stu

    Annoying, isn’t it, that we find out about this AFTER the outbreak; that the CDC says the event is past, but that the CDC also says they don’t know where the outbreak originated. Exactly how can you not know what caused it AND know that it is finished? Just a little more information here would make this a whole lot easier to swallow! (Excuse the pun, please.)

  • doc raymond

    John, to say Taco Bell gets their lettuce from Mexico suggests the spinach related e coli outbreak of 2007, from the Salinas Valley in California, did not happen. And the lettuce linked Taco Bell outbreak the same year? What was the source of the irrigation water used for that product? Do you know? The CDC does. Please try and realize that pointing fingers at imports is not healthy or productive. The U.S. grows enough contaminated produce to infect every American citizen.
    Lamar, this has nothing to do with organic and pesticides etc. This is all about contamination with fecal material from animals. Go take your organic mantra to another stage. Let’s stick with the source of enteric pathogens on this issue.

  • Bill Martin

    Seriously Marler Clark, you are nothing more than ambulance chasers. You act so holier than thou even though you know that the US has the safest food supply in the world. I’m a food scientist and my specialty is food safety. I’ve spoken on food safety topics at worldwide conferences and written for food safety trade magazines. Your constant assault on the treasuries of reputable companies is repugnant. You disguise yourselves as advocates for the “little guy”, but you’re only out for huge litigation wins.

  • Bill Martin

    Lamar, there is NOTHING special about organic products, in fact they may be less safe in some circumstances than regular food.

  • Ted Turner

    Hector Chaparro, were you born yesterday, by chance. Sounds like it. You get educated!