Green Onions Test Negative for E. coli

Although Taco Bell is fingering scallions as the source of a national E. coli outbreak, federal tests failed to confirm green onions as the source.

Published on: Dec 12, 2006

Despite Taco Bell's assertion that green onions were the most likely source of a recent E. coli outbreak in the Northeast tied to the restaurant chain, federal follow-up tests failed to confirm scallions as the source of the bacteria.

Taco Bell officials said over the weekend that tests conducted by an independent lab, hired by Taco Bell, had determined scallions as the likely source of the bacteria that has sickened at least 64 people in five Northeast states.

However, federal and state health officials have cautioned that those results were not official and had not been confirmed. Now, federal follow-up testing of the same scallion samples came up negative for E. coli.

The FDA has said it has no plans to issue a warning on green onions, and all food items on the Taco Bell menu are still being considered possible culprits.

Taco Bell President Greg Creed, meanwhile, suggests that his company may not even be the common link in the E. coli cases.

"As nearly half the entire U.S. adult population eats at a Taco Bell at least once a month, it's easy to understand how we might be considered associated with this illness," Creed says in a statement issued from the company's headquarters in Irvine, California.

Farther west, over 30 have fallen ill after eating at Taco John's restaurant in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The two restaurant chains are not associated, and there is no sign that the two outbreaks are connected.