Skip to main content
Home World U.S. Weather Business Sports Analysis Politics Law Tech Science Health Entertainment Offbeat Travel Education Specials Autos I-Reports
Health News

E. coli outbreak now in 6 states; agencies focus on Taco Bell

Story Highlights

• 63 confirmed cases; about 60 others under investigation
• Second lawsuit filed; plaintiff is Pennsylvania man
• Outbreak count revised to six states including Utah, South Carolina
From Caleb Silver
Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

NEW YORK (CNN) -- More than 120 people in six states may be infected with the strain of E. coli bacteria involved in an outbreak that may be linked to Taco Bell restaurants, officials said Friday.

Sixty-three people have been confirmed to have the illness, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday afternoon, and state health agencies, earlier said about 60 other cases were under investigation. South Carolina and Utah are the latest states to report outbreaks.

State and federal agencies are still trying to pin down the source, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the vast majority of the reported cases involved people who had eaten at Taco Bell restaurants before falling ill.

Dr. Greg Braden of the CDC said his agency and state health departments have not seen any other sources of the illness and are zeroing in on Taco Bell and its suppliers.

"We have some leads to say that it might be green onions, and that's based upon some preliminary testing that's been done in a number of laboratories right now," Braden said, "but the testing has not been confirmed, so we're keeping the options open, and the investigations that we're doing will be covering a wide range of foods, all of them served at Taco Bell specifically."

On a voice recording for consumers looking for more information on E. coli, Taco Bell says, "Many of the people who reported becoming ill did not eat at Taco Bell."

Representatives for the company could not provide an updated count of consumers who contracted E. coli after eating at its restaurants. Instead they referred CNN to the health departments of the states where cases have been identified or are suspected: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina and Utah.

No case in Connecticut

Earlier this week, state health officials in Connecticut suspected one case of E. coli, according to the FDA, but William Gerrish of the state's department of health told CNN Friday that there are no cases in the state.

On Wednesday, Taco Bell said it had ordered the removal of all green onions from its 5,800 outlets nationwide, after three samples tested by an independent laboratory were found to be positive for E. coli.

New Jersey health officials earlier this week focused attention on a food distribution warehouse in Burlington. Taco Bell would not confirm that the warehouse, operated by McLane Foodservice Inc., was being investigated.

Ready Pac, a food distribution company that supplies Taco Bell's Northeast operations through a processing plant in Florence, New Jersey, says it stopped producing and shipping green onions to the restaurant's franchises on Wednesday after reports of the outbreak.

The company released a statement saying it is working with regulatory agencies and industry experts to determine the source of the bacteria.

Boskovich Farms in Oxnard, California, is a main provider of green onions to Taco Bell, but the company says it has not been contacted by the FDA or any government agencies although it is aware of the E. coli outbreak. The company said in a written statement that it is working closely with Taco Bell and Ready Pac to pinpoint the source of the bacteria.

Two lawsuits relating to the outbreak have been filed against Taco Bell and its parent company, Yum Brands. The first was filed by the family of an 11-year-old New York boy, Tyler Vormittag. It claims the boy contracted E. coli after eating at a Taco Bell on November 24 in Riverhead.

The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of Stephen Minnis of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Minnis, who was hospitalized twice because of symptoms related to the E. coli bacteria, is also filing suit against Boskovich Farms, according to his attorney, Drew Falkenstein.

CNN's David Miller, Catherine Clifford, Miles O'Brien, Chris Browne and Katy Byron contributed to this report.


In association with


In association with
  • Healthology
  • Advertisement
    International Edition
    CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise with Us About Us Contact Us
    © 2007 Cable News Network.
    A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
    SERVICES » E-mails RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNNtoGo CNN Pipeline
    Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
    Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more