An unidentified Mexican quick-service restaurant chain has been linked to a Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak believed to have sickened at least 68 people in 10 states, but that is now over, federal officials said late last week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said it has been cooperating with state public health officials trying to uncover the cause of the outbreak, which it said began on or after Oct. 13.
CDC officials said investigators researching the source of the outbreak found it was associated with eating food from a source they would identify only as “Mexican-style, fast-food Restaurant Chain A.”
As a non-regulatory agency, the CDC does not typically release the names of companies involved in outbreak investigations, deferring to state public health officials to make that call, said spokesperson Lola Russell. She said the CDC may publicize the name of a company in certain circumstances when doing so benefits the investigation or the protection of public health, such
as when a product is being recalled.
Despite the cooperation of the chain and its suppliers and distributors, investigators were unable to identify a specific food associated with the illnesses because common ingredients were used together in many menu items, CDC representatives said.
In non-conclusive observations, the CDC noted that “the epidemic curve seen in the outbreak is consistent with those observed in past produce-related outbreaks.” It added that ground beef was an unlikely outbreak source due to the handling and cooking processes used by the restaurant chain.
The CDC said investigators concluded that the Salmonella contamination likely occurred before the product in question reached the chain’s restaurants, as sickened individuals reported eating at 18 different units of the unnamed brand in the week before they became ill.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story has been updated to include comments from the CDC.