Taco Bell pulls green onions from all U.S. and Canadian stores

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Saturday, December 9, 2006

A typical Taco Bell fast food restaurant in Santa Cruz, California.

Taco Bell restaurants decided Wednesday to remove green onions from all 5,800 of its continental U.S. stores after a November 29 outbreak of E.coli food poisonings caused the voluntary closing of 9 mid-Atlantic states stores and led health officials to investigate the chain's regional supplier. As many as 66 people reportedly became ill in New York City, Long Island, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

The E.coli outbreak also caused Taco Bell Canada to recall green onions from all 182 locations across Canada. Officials with the Canadian branch said Wednesday evening that they would take precaution by removing green onions from all stores in Canada after hearing of the outbreak in the U.S.

Jon Prinsell, president of Yum! Canada, which operates Taco Bell Canada commented:

Cquote1.svg As a precautionary voluntary measure, we have made the decision to take immediate action and remove green onions from all our restaurants in Canada until we know conclusively the root cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S. We are working closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency throughout this investigation. Cquote2.svg

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration are currently collecting samples of all non-meat items including cilantro, cheddar cheese, blended cheese, green onions, yellow onions, tomatoes, and lettuce.

A man from Pennsylvania became sick after eating at Taco Bell and sued the owner of Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, California. Another one includes a 11-year-old boy who ate at Taco Bell, was hospitalized in New York, and also sued the owner.

Most of the E. coli related sicknesses occurred in the northeast USA. No related sickness have occurred in Canada.

Health officials investigating the source of the tainted green onions, also known as scallions, have traced the vegetable's food distribution chain to the Texas-based McLane Co., which in turn got them from Irwindale-based Ready Pac.

The scallions were grown by Boskovich Farms Inc. of Oxnard, California said Steve Dickstein, the marketing vice president for Ready Pac. At what point in the food distribution chain the scallions became tainted remains under investigation.

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