Almost 100 people across six states have been confirmed as sickened in a wave of E. coli that has been linked to Wendy’s restaurants.
At least 97 people have been reported sick, with 43 hospitalizations, according to NPR. No cases have been fatal.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the outbreak, which began in states including Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania has now spread to New York and Kentucky.
The CDC said the extent of the outbreak could be even greater.
“The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and this outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for E. coli,” the CDC said.
“A specific food has not yet been confirmed as the source of this outbreak, but many sick people reported eating sandwiches with romaine lettuce at Wendy’s restaurants in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania before getting sick,” the CDC said on its website.
The CDC said that at this point, its best guess is that the illness is linked to Wendy’s.
“Of 54 people with detailed information about what they ate at Wendy’s, 37 (69 percent) reported eating romaine lettuce served on burgers and sandwiches. Investigators continue to analyze data at the ingredient level to determine if there are any other possible foods that could be the source of the outbreak,” the CDC said.
“Based on this information, Wendy’s has taken the precautionary measure of removing the romaine lettuce being used in sandwiches from restaurants in that region,” the CDC said.
Have you eaten at a Wendy’s recently?
Yes: 29% (4 Votes)
No: 71% (10 Votes)
The CDC said not all lettuce is suspect.
“Wendy’s uses a different type of romaine lettuce for salads. Investigators are working to confirm whether romaine lettuce is the source of this outbreak, and whether romaine lettuce used in Wendy’s sandwiches was served or sold at other businesses,” it said.
The CDC said Wendy’s is “fully cooperating with the investigation.”
Wendy’s issued a statement in response to the CDC alert.
“We are fully cooperating with public health authorities on their ongoing investigation of the targeted E. coli outbreak reported in certain states,” it said.
“While the CDC has not yet confirmed a specific food as the source of that outbreak, we have taken the precaution of removing the sandwich lettuce at some restaurants. The lettuce that we use in our salads is different, and is not affected by this action. As a company, we are committed to upholding our high standards of food safety and quality,” it said.
The CDC said there is no evidence of widespread issues with romaine lettuce at either stores or other restaurants.
The first illness in the outbreak was reported in late July. Michigan has had 58 infections, according to the CDC.
According to Bloomberg, Pacific International Marketing in Salinas Valley, California, which it said was a Wendy’s lettuce supplier, said that it is monitoring the outbreak.
Bill Marler, a lawyer representing 32 people impacted by the outbreak, said he believes the contaminated lettuce came from the Santa Maria, California, area.