An outbreak of E. coli that has sickened nearly 40 people in New York and New Jersey has been linked to Taco Bell. Twenty-two people’s illnesses have been linked to a South Plainfield, NJ store, and eight other restaurants have been closed as a precaution.
Some health officials acknowledged that an announcement of the contamination had been delayed in New Jersey for several days, in part over concerns for possible overreaction by the public. Some critics questioned the delay.
Carol Tucker Foreman, head of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America, said the delay had obviated a swift inspection of other outlets in the chain, which buys food in bulk. There are 204 Taco Bell restaurants in New York State, and 86 in New Jersey.
This is the most serious E. coli outbreak since contaminated spinach infected over 200 people in mid-September. That outbreak spawned many E. coli lawsuits.