Health Menu

Sponsored Links


Over 250 sick after eating at Indiana Olive Garden

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - More than 250 people have reported becoming sick after eating at an Olive Garden restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana, a county health official said on Friday,a day after an outbreak of E.coli at Taco Bell restaurants was declared over.
The news makes Olive Garden at least the third U.S. restaurant chain this month to be linked to widespread customer illnesses and those scares followed a high-profile outbreak of E.coli earlier this year, linked to spinach, that killed three people and sickened 200 others.

Officials are working on identifying the cause of the Indiana illnesses and an Olive Garden spokesman said there was no indication they were connected to any other outbreak.

Some customers who ate at the Olive Garden restaurant in northeast Indianapolis between December 9 and December 13 have reported nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and in some cases fever, said John Althardt, a spokesman for the Marion County Health Department.

Three of those people have been hospitalized.

A spokesman for Olive Garden, which is owned by Orlando, Florida-based Darden Restaurants Inc., said the company was in the process of closing the affected restaurant to help health officials investigate the source of the illnesses.

"The primary focus of the health department is on some employees that have been exhibiting flu-like symptoms," said Olive Garden spokesman Steve Coe.

Coe added that the restaurant had also been sanitized twice and that appropriate food safety practices had been reinforced with its staff.

An employee who answered the phone at the Olive Garden restaurant on E. 82nd Street in Indianapolis said that was the outlet where the sick people had eaten. He also said the restaurant was still open.

Tests of both the sick peoples' stool and leftovers they took home from the restaurant will be conducted later today or Monday, Althardt said. He added the tests would take about 48 hours.

At least six employees at the restaurant have also reported being sick in the last week, although Althardt said those illnesses may not be related to the patrons' sicknesses.

A spokeswoman for the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration, Julie Zawisza, said she had no information on the illnesses linked to Olive Garden.

Late on Thursday, federal health officials said an outbreak of E.coli that sickened 71 people in the U.S. Northeast who ate at the Taco Bell fast-food chain was over.

That outbreak, which officials have said was likely caused by contaminated lettuce, has led to a drop in sales at Taco Bell restaurants since it was disclosed earlier this month.

Also this week, restaurant chain Taco John's said E.coli sickened 54 of its customers in Iowa and Minnesota. That case is believed to be unrelated to the Taco Bell outbreak, federal health officials have said.

Nichola Groom