Taco Bell Linked to October Salmonella Outbreak

We recently blogged about a Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak, in what was reported as “a Mexican chain restaurant,” spanning ten states.  This outbreak sickened 68 people in Texas, as well as people nine other states.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) referred to the possible source merely as “Restaurant Chain A.” However, the Oklahoma State Department of Health recently reported the outbreak was linked to Taco Bell.  It is unclear why the CDC kept this under wraps.

The CDC claims that it didn’t release the name of the establishment tied to the salmonella outbreak, as it would not have had any public health benefit.  A CDC spokesperson told ABC News, “By the time we posted information about this outbreak, it was over. If it was over, there would have been no public need to disclose it.” Yet I find this hard to fathom: if you know a certain restaurant recently had a Salmonella outbreak, how many of you actually would eat there?

I don’t know about you, but I think Americans have the right to know that 68 people in ten states were affected with bacterium after eating at a popular food chain this past October. What makes this even worse is that the first cases of Salmonella Enteritidis appeared at the beginning of April and continued through the third week in July. Dozens were sickened in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, with a few other cases scattered throughout the country including a woman in Oregon who became sick.  “It’s very striking to have two such similar outbreaks at roughly the same time and both of them affecting Taco Bell” stated William Keene, senior epidemiologist with Oregon Public Health.

“Naming a restaurant could have an economic impact on the company’s bottom line,” said Kristen Nordlund, an agency spokeswoman.  So as long as the company’s profits are protected, their secret is safe with our government.  Do you think we, as paying customers, have the right to know that a popular food chain such as Taco Bell has had two outbreaks of Salmonella within one year or should we take our chances and consume tainted food? Is this justice?

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