Officials have confirmed 40 people in the Cedar Falls area were sickened by food from a local fast-food restaurant. Eighteen had to be hospitalized. Investigators believe the source of the E-coli contamination was either one of two food items or a food handler at a Taco John’s in Cedar Falls.
Black Hawk County Public Health director Tom O’Rourke says,”The department has submitted foods for testing and we’re seeking lab tests, results from foods. We’re also looking for results from individuals who’ve submitted specimens for testing.”
A Taco John’s official says the restaurant threw away food, changed suppliers and did a through sanitizing job when health officials began investigating the first reports of illness. But unlike the national Taco Bell cases, green onions were not the culprit. Taco John’s removed that particular item from its menu a year ago.
Black Hawk County environmental health manager Mark Linda praised the fast-food chain for its quick response. “We had a restaurant that was very cooperative when we first appeared on the scene,” he says. Public health officials also credit an alert emergency room physician with alerting them to the possible E-coli outbreak. There have been no new cases reported since December 6th when the restaurant was sanitized and the food replaced.