10 of the worst restaurant food poisonings in the last 45 years • Thumbwind

Food poisoning from contaminated food in a restaurant can be a nightmare for public health officials and a life-stopper for even a large restaurant chain. Here are some of the most notable cases of restaurant food poisoning over the past 45 years.

1977 Trini & Carmen Hot Pepper Sauce

One of the first cases of food poisoning covered in national media occurred in Pontiac, Michigan. Trini & Carmen’s was a hip Mexican restaurant in suburban Detroit. In March 1977, customers reported symptoms of food poisoning. The cause was attributed to a homemade hot sauce using homemade canned jalapeño peppers. As a result, 58 people fell ill, resulting in one of the largest botulism outbreaks in US history. The restaurant was temporarily closed and jars of contaminated peppers were seized. No deaths have been reported.

Trini and Carmen’s remains in business today as it is still one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in the Detroit area.

1982 E. coli. McDonald’s outbreak

Photo by Visual Karsa

From February to March and May to June 1982, 47 people fell ill with a rare form of E. coli after eating hamburgers at McDonald’s in Oregon and Michigan. The strain of E. coli was so rare that tests came back negative for the bacteria, and hospitals struggled to figure out how to treat patients.

The restaurant food poisoning epidemic caused by this rare strain of E. coli has prompted published concerns regarding the identification of bacteria that may affect the nation’s food supply and awareness of animals raised in concentrated animal feed operations (CAFOs).

outbreak of E. coli from 1993 with Jack in the Box Hamburgers

hamburger - food poisoning from a restaurant
Photo by Admirali Mirhashemian

This outbreak of E. coli in a fast food restaurant has been considered the most infamous food poisoning outbreak in US history. In 1993, Jack-in-Box introduced a specially made food product called Monster Burger. Unfortunately, due to the size of the burger, it ended up in undercooked patties. Also, the burgers were only cooked to 140 degrees F, the minimum temperature required by the FDA.

The result was disastrous. Seven hundred and thirty-two people were affected by E. coli. Four children died and 178 suffered permanent kidney and brain damage. The outbreak nearly bankrupted the chain and led to stricter government regulations on food handling. Improved testing by Jack-in-the-Box and industry has dramatically reduced cases of E. coli in fast food burgers.

1997 Beef contaminated by supplier forces Burger King to withdraw product

Burger King suffered its first significant food poisoning attack in a restaurant in 1997. Afterwards, sixteen people suffered from symptoms of E. coli from the contaminated hamburger. As they searched for the source of the contamination, Burger King removed all burgers from its menu at 650 of its 1,650 locations, selling only chicken and fish.

The source turned out to be an Arkansas-based beef processor named Hudson Food. The USDA inspected the processing plant, then summarily asked Hudson to close the plant and recall the burger that was being made there in June. However, inspectors discovered that Hudson was storing unprocessed meat overnight and adding it to the next day’s production. As a result, Hudson recalled over 25 million pounds of beef and Burger King severed its business relationship with the meat supplier.

After the crisis, Burger King launched an advertising campaign in newspapers across the country to clear up confusion about the safety of its beef.

1999 Coleslaw Sickens 11 of four Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets in Ohio

Kentucky Fried Chicken
Photo by iStrfry, Marcus

It was a hot summer in southern Ohio. Right after the 4th of July holiday, people who ate tainted coleslaw fell ill with symptoms of E. coli. The outbreak has sickened 18 people at four Cincinnati locations of Kentucky Fried Chicken; 11 were hospitalized. Ohio health officials noted that it had recorded 30 confirmed cases and 11 were attributed to KFC. Officials noted particular food handling errors as possible explanations for the contamination: use of outer leaves of cabbage, insufficient washing of cabbage, and use of unpeeled carrots.

The incident changed the way KFC outlets receive and handle coleslaw. Cabbage was no longer prepared and chopped in individual restaurants.

The meat of the 2000s contaminates the melon at Sizzler

Food handling and facility layout were the culprits at two Wisconsin Sizzler restaurants. Raw meat for tacos and sirloin tips contaminated watermelon and caused an outbreak of E. confirmed. 23 had to be hospitalized and a three-year-old girl died. The girl’s family and 138 other plaintiffs reached a $13.5 million settlement with Sizzler’s meat supplier in 2012.

Sizzler struggled to stay alive as a restaurant chain after the outbreak. She emerged from bankruptcy in 1998. She was paying the families’ medical bills and pursuing lawsuits with her suppliers under her belt.

2003 Chi-Chi’s Salsa and Chili Con Queso

The next time you eat green onions, you’ll remember that they were once the source of the largest hepatitis A epidemic in the United States. In October 2003, about 640 people were affected, including 13 employees. Unfortunately, four died of the disease.

The source was a Chi-Chi’s Tex-Mex restaurant in Monaca, Pennsylvania. The outbreak forced the health department to provide immunoglobulin vaccines and post-exposure antibodies to more than 9,000 people. This restaurant food poisoning was attributed to uncooked green onions being used as a garnish. The onions, imported from Mexico, were used in the restaurant’s salsa and chili con queso. However, Chi-Chi’s reputation never recovered. The following year, the restaurant chain was no longer in business.

2006 Utah Wendy’s e.Coli Contamination

In July 2006, iceberg lettuce contaminated with E. coli was served at a Wendy’s in Utah. The same restaurant catered a conference in Utah. At the meeting, salad was provided and one person fell ill with symptoms of E. coli. Four people fell ill in all. Additionally, there were three severe cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome. This is an E. coli infection that can lead to kidney failure.

Taco Bell sickened 71 people in the Northeast in 2006

Tacos - restaurant food poisoning
Photo by Jeswin Thomas

In December 2006, 71 Taco Bell customers in five northeastern states became ill with E. coli after eating contaminated shredded lettuce. The Taco Bell restaurants where people with the outbreak had eaten are located in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. As a result, eight people suffered kidney failure due to this case of food poisoning at the restaurant. The cause was determined to be lettuce shipped from California.

This event had a considerable influence on the company. Taco Bell’s same-store sales fell 5%. They fell by 11% in the first quarter of 2007. The decline lasted until the third quarter of 2007.

2008, 2013, 2014 Jimmy John Germ Contamination

Jimmy John’s has been making headlines with foodborne illnesses for the past decade. Since 2008, the freshly made-from-scratch sub-sandwich chain has served germs that have led to E. coli at least five times. A tally of reports since 2008 shows 479 people affected.

One of the largest restaurant food poisoning outbreaks occurred in 2014 when local officials in Michigan, California, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Washington worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). to investigate an outbreak that affected 19 people in May 2014. Germs have been the cause of an outbreak at least five times. In 2013, cucumbers imported from Mexico sickened nine people.

Can I sue a restaurant for food poisoning?

It’s usually not worth taking legal action for restaurant food poisoning unless you’ve suffered a serious, serious, long-term illness that puts your life at risk. . Those who contract food poisoning and become ill can take legal action against the producer, distributor and retail outlet of the food. Compensation for damages may include lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

You will need to present concrete evidence that you had food poisoning to win the case based on your testimony alone. Your visit to the doctor is therefore crucial in this regard.

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Sources consulted – Food poisoning in restaurants

  • Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan, April 4-5, 1977
  • Foodborne Illness Outbreak Database via launchdatabase.com
  • COMPANY NEWS; Jack in the Box’s Worst Nightmare, New York Times 1993
  • 10 notable outbreaks of E. coli in fast food restaurants in the United States, UPI, December 31, 2015
  • Coleslaw blamed for outbreak of E. coli – Cincinnati Enquirer, August 14, 1999
  • Wisconsin Sizzlers vindicated in state Supreme Court, July 12, 2012 – Food Safety News
  • Hepatitis A outbreak associated with green onions at a restaurant, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 28, 2003
  • Salmonella and E. coli: Why does Jimmy Johns still serve germs?, Food Poison Journal, February 2, 2015

About Vivian J. Smith

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