No Quiero Salmonella: Taco Bell Linked to Outbreak

National "Mexican-style" chain identified in October outbreak investigation.

ByABC News
February 2, 2012, 12:07 PM

Feb. 2, 2012 — -- After weeks of anonymity as "Restaurant Chain A" in an investigation into a salmonella outbreak that infected dozens of people in ten states, Taco Bell has been outed as the "Mexican-style" restaurant chain linked to the dangerous infections.

The outbreak, which occurred in October 2011, infected 68 people total, mostly in Texas, and sent more than 20 to the hospital, according to a January report by the Centers for Disease Control. No deaths were linked to the outbreak.

While the CDC and Food and Drug Administration officials were unable to pinpoint exactly what food product may have caused the outbreak, the report said "data indicat[ed] that contamination likely occurred before the product reached Restaurant Chain A locations."

But it was not until Wednesday that Restaurant Chain A was identified by Food Safety News as the fast food favorite Taco Bell, based on data provided by a health official at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. In that state, 16 people had been infected with salmonella.

In a document provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Health to ABC News, health officials noted that of the 16 cases, at least half of the victims had eaten at Taco Bell prior to their infections.

PHOTOS: How Sarah Lewis Got Salmonella

Taco Bell noted in a statement to ABC News that the CDC had not discovered the definitive source of the outbreak and said the department only "indicated that some people who were ill ate at Taco Bell, while others did not."

"We take food quality and safety very seriously," the statement said.

READ the full Taco Bell statement.

WATCH a videotaped statement from Taco Bell.

The CDC kept Taco Bell's name out of their report in accordance with long-standing policy of not necessarily identifying restaurants involved in investigations as long as there is "not a public health theat."

"By the time we posted information about this outbreak, it was over," CDC spokesperson Lola Russell told ABC News. "If it was over, there would have been no public need to disclose it."

She added that this latest case hasn't triggered conversations about changing the policy.

Watch the full report on food safety and secrecy on ABC News' "World News With Diane Sawyer" tonight at 6:30 ET.

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