What is in this article?:
- Darden faces foodborne illness lawsuit
- Tracking the outbreak
The lawsuit claims that a Dallas Olive Garden restaurant served food tainted with the cyclospora parasite.
Both Olive Garden and Red Lobster have been linked to a foodborne illness outbreak that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said was caused by a salad mix that may have been served by the restaurant chains.
As a result, parent company Darden Restaurants Inc. is facing at least one lawsuit and could face several more, according to reports.
The first lawsuit against Darden came from Dallas resident Suzanne Matteis. According to a court filing, Matteis claims she became sick with cyclosporiasis, an intestinal infection caused by a parasite, after dining at an Olive Garden in Addison, Texas.
Matteis is suing for negligence, saying that Olive Garden is required to “conform to a reasonable standard of conduct for the safe storage, handling, preparation, distribution and sale of food product at their restaurant.” In the filing, she claims that she has suffered $15,000 in damages.
Rich Jeffers, a spokesman for Darden Restaurants, said the company is not commenting specifically on the current lawsuit. However, he said, “We do not use Taylor de Mexico farms [products] in Texas.”
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the outbreak of cyclosporiasis in two states — Nebraska and Iowa — has been traced to Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V., a company that makes salad mixes for foodservice use.
“It is not yet clear whether the cases reported from other states are all part of the same outbreak,” the FDA said in a statement. “The investigation of increases cases of cyclosporiasis in other states continues.”
Salads sold in grocery stores, the organization said, have not been implicated in the outbreak.
Because the salad mix typically only has a shelf life of 14 days, all of the tainted mix should already be out of the supply chain, the FDA said. The last date someone became ill from this outbreak was July 1 in Iowa and July 2 in Nebraska.
In a statement, Darden Restaurants drove that point home, assuring consumers that it was safe to eat at its Olive Garden and Red Lobster locations. “We have been fully cooperating with the FDA, as well as the Iowa and Nebraska Health Departments, since the beginning of this investigation,” Darden restaurants said in a statement. “Iowa and Nebraska health authorities have said this is not an ongoing outbreak and the product is no longer in the food supply in those states.”
The statement continued, “It is completely safe to eat in our restaurants.”
Taylor Farms said in a statement that it is also “fully cooperating” with the FDA, as well, noting that as recently as 2011, the FDA’s assessment of the company’s implicated facility and operation was “outstanding ‘with no notable issues.’”
In June, the company both made and distributed 48 million salad servings to restaurants in the Midwestern United States, Taylor Farms said. The company’s other 11 North American plants were not implicated in the outbreak, the company said.