Of the 15 victims of E. coli food poisoning identified by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), most (12) ate at a local Applebee’s restaurant in Blaine, Duluth, Roseville, Woodbury, Willmar, Monticello, Bemidji, or New Hope (all cities in Minnesota) between June 23 and June 29 of this year. And there are two separate locations of Applebee’s implicated in Blaine, MN so far.

Investigators are working to trace the possible source of the E. coli poisoning beginning with the common food supplier servicing each of these Applebee’s locations. The MDH is interviewing victims and also asking anyone who has not yet come forward but who ate at one of these locations and thereafter became ill to call the Minnesota Foodborne Illness Hotline at 1-877-366-3455 to assist investigators in narrowing the possible source of the rare E. coli 0111 to a particular food item.

So far, the investigation is being headed by the MDH, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also conducting a parallel investigation that includes two cases of E. coli 0111 outside of Minnesota. So far, there is no confirmation that these other two are genetic matches to the E. coli 011 cases in Minnesota. Should a genetic match be found, it is likely the CDC would become the primary agency in charge of the investigation.

Initial reports indicated that cabbage, carrots or other ingredients linked to Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad may have carried the E. coli 0111, and the restaurant owners pulled those items from the menu immediately upon suspecting it as the common source. No confirmation of that has yet been made.

E. Coli 0111 Relatively Rare in the United States: A Dozen Outbreaks on Record

There have been a dozen E. coli 0111 outbreaks on record, including this outbreak, in recent years, with the last major one being in 2008 when at least 340 individuals became sick after eating at a Country Cottage in Oklahoma. One person died in that outbreak.

According to one report, this particular genetic strain of E. coli O111 has not been recorded in the U.S., which should enable investigators to more readily identify victims linked to the particular source o f this outbreak.
For more information on this outbreak, feel free to call one of the E. coli lawyers at Ron Simon & Associates at 713-335-4900.