Kentucky Fried Chicken
Though many E. coli outbreaks are associated with and traced back to undercooked beef, that isn’t always the case. In July 1999, 18 people fell ill after consuming coleslaw at a KFC in Ohio. It was attributed to unwashed cabbage and unpeeled carrots.
Taco Bell (2006)
2006 was a bad year for E. coli outbreaks. First, tainted spinach led to at least 276 cases of illness and three deaths across 26 states. At the height of the outbreak, before the source was traced back to an organic grower in California, the FDA warned consumers not to eat any fresh commercial spinach.
Then, a few months later, over 70 cases of E. coli-related illnesses were traced back to Taco Bell locations in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. 53 people were hospitalized. The outbreak was originally attributed to green onions, though Taco Bell later determined that it was caused by lettuce.
The following year, California stepped up its legal processes to ensure that farmers and companies were abiding by stricter food safety practices. Taco Bell and umbrella company Yum! Brands went on to post five quarters of negative profit growth.
Jack in the Box (1993)
The most infamous case of an E. coli outbreak, still considered the worst case of mass food poisoning in contemporary history, occurred at various locations of the Jack in the Box burger chain in 1993.
Until this point, E. coli was still not widely in the public consciousness, although there had already been thirty-five documented deaths attributed to the bacterium. The media had a field day this time around, however, as 732 people became infected with the O157:H7 strain, resulting in 178 cases of permanent injury and the death of four children. The majority of those infected were children younger than ten.
Jack in the Box was found guilty of ignoring state laws that required cooking hamburgers at a certain temperature, and the exact source of the outbreak was attributed to the chain’s “Monster Burger,” which was marketed as being “So good it’s scary!”
As a result of this outbreak, the FDA and other American legislative bodies heavily increased regulations and laws regarding the cooking, processing, and handling of meats and other ingredients, and E. coli became a serious threat in the eyes of the American public. SHARE this story!