McLane Foodservice Inc, the distributor to the Taco Bell restaurants reportedly linked to the recent E coli outbreak in several Northeastern states, announced that a site investigation by the New Jersey Department of Health and Environmental Services (NJDHES) has found no evidence of improper storage or handling practices by McLane.
NJDHES's inspection, conducted at the McLane distribution center in Burlington Township, New Jersey, included a review of the sanitation, product handling, and employee health and training practices regularly employed by McLane during the entire period the contaminated products reportedly were received and distributed.
According to a written statement issued by NJDHES, its inspection of McLane “did not indicate any problems with the firm's food safety operations.” NJDHES also announced that all 15 product samples taken from McLane in the initial investigative visit have tested preliminarily negative.
Meanwhile, Irvine CA-based Taco Bell Corp began a newspaper ad campaign and dispatched its president on media interviews to persuade customers its food was safe. In an open letter published in USA Today, the New York Times, and other newspapers, Taco Bell President Greg Creed expressed support for forming a coalition of food suppliers, competitors, and others to examine ways to safeguard the food supply chain and public health.
The United States Food and Drug Administration said it could not confirm that scallions caused the outbreak, as had been suspected. The agency said it would not rule out any food as a potential source of the problem.