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Seven Sickened by E.Coli after Eating at Lake Forest Souplantation

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An E-Coli outbreak in Orange County traced back to local restaurant. The Souplantation, a San Diego-based salad-bar chain, is cooperating with Orange County health officials who are trying to pinpoint the food that caused six children and one adult to get sick after eating at their Lake Forest restaurant, according to an article published in The Orange County Register Tuesday.

Orange County health officials confirmed to the newspaper that those reportedly sickened by the food tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, the same deadly strain that affected hundreds of consumers in several other recent produce outbreaks that, starting last year, attracted national media attention.

The seven customers ate at the Towne Center Drive restaurant from March 23 to March 25. Though the investigation is ongoing, the restaurant – in a retail center in the community of Foothill Ranch – remains open, the Souplantation said. So far, no other cases have been reported, the article said.

The seven people – six children and one person over 70 years old – are recovering, local health authorities said. Three of the victims had to be hospitalized, according to the article.
Last year, 71 customers of Irvine-based Taco Bell were sickened after they ate contaminated shredded lettuce. That outbreak was limited to several East Coast restaurants. Taco Bell is facing several lawsuits filed nationwide pertaining to those episodes.

Orange County illnesses tied to the deadly E. Coli strain identified in the Souplantation case are rare. Of the 702 local illnesses caused by pathogens and reported to health authorities in 2005, only eight cases were caused by E. coli O157:H7.

Food poisoning is becoming an all-too common phenomenon in our lives today. The problem lies with lack of adequate inspections and enforcement of the safety standards already in place. Growers of leafy greens must also be subjected to these safety inspections. I know they have proposed voluntary measures, but when has self-policing by any industry been effective?
If we don’t have such enforcement, we can expect to see many more people become sick or even die of food-borne illnesses. The Orange County Health Agency’s Web site has a lot of useful information about food-borne illnesses and how to report them in a timely fashion so officials can take necessary action against a particular restaurant or supermarket.

If you want a consultation with an Orange County Lawyer regarding a food borne illness call us at 1-800-259-6373.

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