The head of the Taco John’s fast-food chain says franchise owners are “passionate” about safety and tests show the three Midwest stores identified as the source of an E. coli outbreak have no trace of E. coli today.
Investigators say customers of a Taco John’s in Cedar Falls and two outlets in Minnesota were sickened by lettuce. Taco John’s president and C-E-O Paul Fisherkeller held a news conference this (Tuesday) morning in Minneapolis.
“We’ve been in business for 38 years,” Fisherkeller said. “This is the first time in the history of our chain that we’ve ever had this type of an incident and it’s been a shock to us all.”
A Cedar Falls couple is suing the chain for damages after their daughter fell ill in early December and suffered kidney failure. Fisherkeller did not directly address the lawsuit, but he issued a general get-well wish to patrons who were sickened.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and with your families,” Fisherkeller said. “Since the very beginning when we were notified about this illness we have been closely working with officials…to identify the source of this outbreak.” According to Fisherkeller, state health officials have told him the E. coli likely came from an “external source.”
Fisherkeller said Taco John’s made a “precautionary switch” to another lettuce supplier even before that conclusion was made. “At Taco John’s nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our customers,” he said.
Fisherkeller told reporters that he and the rest of the Taco John’s executive team are heading to a Taco John’s in the Minneapolis area for lunch. “I’m just here to tell you that I am confident in the safety of our products at Taco John’s,” Fisherkeller said. Taco John’s operates 430 restaurants in 26 states.