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April 06, 2012

Nevertheless, Food Safety News obtained a document from the Oklahoma State Department of Health showing that many of the interviewed victims had eaten at a Taco Bell during the exposure period.

In a statement, Taco Bell said that it takes food quality and safety very seriously and emphasized that public health is not at risk now that the incident is over.

“The CDC indicated that some of the people who were ill ate at Taco Bell, while others did not,” the company said. “They believe that the problem likely occurred at the supplier level before it was delivered to any restaurant or food outlet.”

Taco Bell has had its tussles with food-borne illnesses before. The chain was linked to salmonella outbreaks in 2010 that sickened more than 100 people as well as an E. coli incident in 2006 that left dozens ill.

The most recent outbreak comes at a touchy time for the chain, which spent much of last year dealing with the fallout of a quickly dismissed lawsuit that questioned the quality of its seasoned ground beef.

Sales tanked, sliding 2% in the third quarter after falling 5% in the second. Taco Bell is in the process of rolling out new offerings, such as a breakfast menu and meals that challenge Chipotle Mexican Grill’s healthier offerings, to help perk up its image.

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