January 16, 2018

Applebee’s E. coli Outbreak Source Was Likely Cabbage, Officials Say

Green, whole head cabbage was the likely source of an E. coli O111 outbreak that sickened at least 15 people who ate at the Yard House or one of several Applebee’s restaurants in MN, the Minnesota Department of Health said today. Four people were hospitalized and  have recovered.

E. coliThirteen patients ate at Applebee’s restaurants in Minnesota in June and July 2014.  Most of those sickened ate the Oriental Chicken Salad at the Applebee’s restaurant.  Applebee’s temporarily removed the item from the menu and changed the ingredients before making it available again.

The outbreak strain of E. coli O111 has not been seen in the United States before this particular outbreak. Health officials say the cabbage was likely contaminated before it was delivered to restaurants. A common out-of-state supplier was traced to source the cabbage.

The Minnesota Department of Health stated, “The FDA examination of the potentially involved farms is still ongoing. Single cases of illness that match the outbreak strain have occurred in three other states.”

 

No new illnesses have been reported since July 10, 2014. Cabbage was one of the ingredients considered a possible suspect in the outbreak, along with carrots, rice noodles, and almonds. All of those foods can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria either in farm fields, during processing and transport, and in the kitchen via cross-contamination.

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