E. coli Outbreak Investigation Continues

Restaurant chains and consumers are wondering what they can do to ensure safety.

After more than 60 confirmed cases of E. coli bacteria were traced back to Taco Bell restaurants in five states the fast food chain's president focused on damage control.

The company president announced it switched suppliers for green onions, the produce most likely triggering the outbreak, and stressed all other food on its menus, is safe.

It is the third food borne illness outbreak involving produce in as many months.

While the majority of the nation’s food chain is safe, the latest outbreak has raised enough concern within the restaurant industry to look at beefing up safety standards, especially for raw produce.

“We need to feel very confident that the produce we’re getting in the back of our restaurants is indeed safe, so we need some type of certification, verification based on our industry needs,” explains Donna Garren, National Restaurant Association.

The FDA estimate only three percent of the nation’s food is inspected, including produce.

“On a day to day basis we won’t inspect every product. We inspect the highest-risk products then go to another firm and inspect what they have and another week we may go to a different one. It’s not a continuous inspection system,” explains Dr. Robert Brackett, FDA.

It’s a system even the FDA says might need improving in order to catch deadly bacteria like E. coli before it leaves the farm and reaches the consumer.

Health inspectors are still investigating the southern California farm that produced the onions and distribution plants that processed the onions for Taco Bell.


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