Wendy’s customers describe food poisoning as E. coli outbreak spreads

Ebonē Colbert ordered as usual when visiting Wendy’s every week with his son. A kid’s meal with a plain cheeseburger for her son, and for herself she ordered her Dave’s Single, a burger topped with lettuce and tomato.

This was followed by 24 hours of vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea, followed by 12 days of hospital treatment. Escherichia coli.

In an update Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had linked 84. Escherichia coli It has caused outbreaks in four states: Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, where Colbert lives. Wendy’s romaine his lettuce is suspected to be the culprit. That’s because the majority of those who got sick reported eating Wendy’s burgers or sandwiches topped with toppings.

However, the total number of cases is likely to be underestimated as the investigation is ongoing and includes only illnesses that occurred between July 26th and August 9th.

At least 38 people are hospitalized, according to the CDC.

Eight people in Michigan, including Colbert, developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. Hemolytic-uremic syndrome is a rare but serious condition that can lead to kidney failure. Colbert said he had to wear diapers because he had a lot of blood in his bowels for a while. She lost her 14 pounds. She still has problems eating and using the toilet.

In a statement, Wendy’s said it is “cooperating fully with public health officials regarding an ongoing investigation into a reported regional E. coli outbreak in certain Midwestern states.”

“Although the CDC has not yet confirmed a specific food item as the cause of the outbreak, several restaurants in the area have taken precautionary measures to discard and replace sandwich lettuce. Used in salads. The lettuce you do is different. There is no effect from this action,” Wendys said.

Colbert finds out in the news that her illness may be related to Wendy’s diet.

“My son loves Wendy’s,” she said. “I’ll have to explain to him, ‘Hey, we don’t eat there anymore.'”

NBC News spoke to five other people who got sick after eating Wendy’s burgers or sandwiches with romaine lettuce in July or August. Each said it was the worst pain they had ever experienced.

“My stomach looked like I was pregnant. It was inflamed and very swollen,” said Hilary Kaufman of Bowling Green, Ohio.

Kaufman went to the emergency room and went home with antibiotics and painkillers. The pain she suffered was worse than giving birth to four children, she said.she tested positive Escherichia coli last week.

Debi Ruryk of Lawrenceburg, Indiana likened her bloating to being punched in the stomach. She ordered extra lettuce on her burger on August 8 and developed headaches, diarrhea and body aches about 48 hours later. rice field.

“I fought breast cancer, recovered from it, and went through a year of treatment, radiation, and chemotherapy, and so did the fatigue that came with it.

“Outbreaks may not be confined to states with known illnesses,” the CDC said.

Alicia Kickbush, a Pennsylvania resident, said she had diarrhea, vomiting and severe stomach cramps after eating at Wendy’s at the Las Vegas airport last week. It was reported to the Department of Health, which told NBC News it had not received any complaints related to it. Escherichia coli at Wendy’s.

Alicia Kickbush said she ordered a Dave’s Single burger with standard toppings including lettuce and felt sick for about 48 hours. Her husband ordered her hot honey chicken her sandwich without lettuce and didn’t get sick.

“Fortunately I’m already over it, but it was terrible,” she said.

Ohio resident Sarah Boron sued Wendy’s on Monday, claiming she felt sick after eating a meal at one of the chains in Bowling Green. Escherichia coli It’s been a week since she ate a Dave’s Single burger, according to the lawsuit.

Colbert also sued Wendy’s, hoping to recoup the medical bills from going to the hospital and the lost wages from being out of work for a month. The estimated bill for the hospital visit was $2,000 after insurance coverage.

Kaufman has not yet received the hospital bill, but plans to file a lawsuit as well.She missed sending her kids out for the first day of school because she was at the clinic getting her tested, she said. Escherichia coli.

Why are there so many E. coli outbreaks associated with lettuce?

Escherichia coli Bacteria that contaminate food. The very young, the elderly, pregnant, or those with compromised immune systems are more likely to suffer more severe consequences.

“I didn’t realize it was bad. Escherichia coli until I got it. …This has serious consequences for people,” said Colbert, who hopes food suppliers and distributors will find and implement better ways to keep consumers safe.

Escherichia coli Darrin Detwiler, a professor of food regulatory policy at Northeastern University, says lettuce is often the culprit for several reasons.

For one, lettuce is consumed raw, so there is no heat to kill the bacteria.

“A little washing can kill them, but you can’t wash them enough to kill them all,” Detwiler says.

many Escherichia coli It also occurs in the fall when lettuce production moves from California’s Central Coast to Arizona’s Yuma Valley and California’s Imperial Valley, Detwiler said. , or not sure if other factors are the cause.

If the water supply is the culprit, that might explain why Escherichia coli Outbreaks are fairly consistent from year to year, Detwiler said.

In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration delayed the requirement for farms to test untreated groundwater. Then, recently, he proposed extending the deadline to January 2023 for large farms and another year or two for small or very small farms.

Given that Wendy’s lettuce is a hybrid of a particular romaine lettuce and an iceberg, Detwiler said, it’s possible that it comes from a single farm that isn’t distributed to other restaurants and grocery stores.CDC also said there was no evidence the lettuce was sold elsewhere.

Detweiler says food-borne pathogens are so ubiquitous that avoiding certain foods makes little sense.

“If you don’t eat everything that has ever been suspected of causing food poisoning, you can’t eat anything,” he said.

Detwiler’s own son died in 1993 at the age of 16 months. Escherichia coli Outbreaks associated with Jack in the Box ground beef. His son did not eat any chain food, but had contact with another child. Escherichia coli at daycare.

“In many cases, businesses will recover. Consumers and entire families will never recover,” Detwiler said.

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