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Taco Bell Named in Kentucky Salmonella Lawsuit

Aug 9, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

A lawsuit has been filed in a Salmonella outbreak reportedly linked to Taco Bell restaurants. The lawsuit, filed by a resident of Kentucky, claims the plaintiff ate at a Taco Bell on May 24, and was later hospitalized due to Salmonella poisoning.

As we reported last week, Taco Bell restaurants have been implicated in two different Salmonella outbreaks involving the Hartford and Baildon strains. At least 155 people in 21 states have been sickened in the outbreaks. No deaths were reported, but about 30 percent of the Hartford and 40 percent of the Baildon cases have required hospitalization.

The two strains rarely cause food-borne illnesses in the US. In fact, the last Baildon outbreak was in the winter of 1998-99 and also involved tomatoes, according to the site.

According to a report on, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not officially named Taco Bell as the culprit, instead referring to a unnamed Mexican-style fast food chain it calls “Restaurant A.” However, an official with Oregon Public Health told the site that: “It’s been clear for weeks that Taco Bell was the source for many of the illnesses.”

Because the illnesses have been reported in so many states, experts believe the pathogens may have been present on vegetables that were contaminated before they arrived at the restaurants.

According to the Kentucky lawsuit, Jo Anne Smith became ill with symptoms typical of Salmonella poisoning two days after she had eaten tacos garnished with lettuce, cheese, and sour cream from a Frankfort Taco Bell. On May 29, the 45-year-old Smith was so weak and dehydrated that she called her husband and asked him to take her to the emergency room. A stool sample Smith submitted while at the ER later returned positive for Salmonella Hartford.

This is not the first time Taco Bell restaurants have been implicated in an outbreak of food borne illness. In 2000, tainted green onions served by the chain were tied to an outbreak of hepatitis. Then in 2006 an E. coli outbreak linked to tainted lettuce served at the restaurants sickened at least 71 many patrons in five states.

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