The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has finally found the source of an E. coli outbreak linked Applebee’s restaurants. According to MDH, the source of the 15 E. coli cases that plagued Applebee’s establishments in Woodbury, Roseville, Blaine, Monticello and Duluth counties between June 24th and 27th has now been found. Mike Schommer, a MDH spokesperson, said early on that the “more people we talk to, the more likely we will find the origin of the problem,” and he was right. An exhaustive trace-back investigation has led investigators to green whole head cabbage as the likely source of E. coli – the MDH also said, based on the fact that a few of the victims had not eaten at an Applebee’s Restaurant (one is believed to have eaten at a Yardhouse restaurant), that the cabbage likely was contaminated before it was received by Applebee’s locations.

The MDH has not yet identified the cabbage vendor, saying only that the supplier was a company outside Minnesota and that U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were investigating.
The identification of raw cabbage was consistent with early predictions that the Oriental chicken salad at Applebee’s was the culprit, as it contains cabbage. Applebee’s in Minnesota had pulled the salad as a precaution, which may have prevented further injuries.

Applebee’s, which has 58 restaurants in Minnesota, is now serving the Oriental chicken dish, having switched sources for the suspect ingredients.