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Salmonella outbreak may have ties to Taco Bell

By Eatocracy

(CNN) -- We were all set to scribble up a defense* of Taco Bell's Cantina Tacos in light of SF Weekly and Fresno Beehive's gleeful dismissal, but then the Center For Disease Control came out with this:

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in multiple states, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS) to investigate two multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections, each involving a different Salmonella serotype: Hartford and Baildon. Both of these Salmonella serotypes are rare, and ill persons in both outbreaks have a similar age and geographic distribution. Investigators are using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify cases of illness that may be part of these outbreaks.

Epidemiologic studies comparing foods eaten by ill and well persons were conducted for both of these multistate outbreaks. In each study, analysis indicates that eating at a Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain, Restaurant Chain A, is associated with some illnesses. Among persons eating at Restaurant Chain A, no specific food item or ingredient was found to be associated with illness for either outbreak. The numbers of new cases for the Salmonella Hartford outbreak have declined substantially since a peak in early June 2010. The numbers of new cases for the Salmonella Baildon outbreak have declined substantially since a peak in late June 2010. The number of new cases of illness associated with these outbreak strains appears to have returned to baseline, indicating the outbreaks are not ongoing.

As it happens, food safety law firm Marler Clark reports that the first salmonella lawsuit related to this incident has been filed again Yum! Brands - the parent company of Taco Bell, so even though the incidents don't appear to be ongoing, we'll hold off on the bemused-by-its-non-disgustingness Cantina review for right now.

*But really - we get why San Francisco and Fresno residents might be offended by the very notion of a fast food heavyweight horning in on their beloved taco trucks' territory, but in waaayyyyyy upstate New York rural-burbia where we gobbled down a surprisingly palatable carnitas taco, and another with grilled steak, it's not as if mobile comestibles offer much beyond soft serve. Plus hey - comes with a lime wedge.