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Darden Restaurants faces investigations, lawsuits after food poisoning outbreak

Contaminated salad served at Olive Garden, Red Lobster sickened hundreds of diners

The company behind the restaurants Red Lobster and Olive Garden is feeling sick after being linked to the nationwide cyclospora outbreak.

As of Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had reported more than 500 cases of cyclospora—an intestinal illness—in 16 states. At least 30 people have been hospitalized as a result.

Although federal investors are still trying to determine the cause of the nationwide outbreak, they have pinned down the source in at least two states. In Iowa and Nebraska, the outbreak was traced to salads served at Darden Restaurants’ Olive Garden and Red Lobster eateries. The restaurants received their salad mixes from Taylor Farms de Mexico, a food-service industry supplier.

In a statement, Darden said, “Nothing we have seen prior to this announcement gave us any reason to be concerned about the products we've received from this supplier.” It also said that “it is completely safe to eat in our restaurants.”

At least two people in Iowa have filed lawsuits against Darden for the stomach issues they suffered after eating at Olive Garden. More are expected to come. And even though the CDC and Food and Drug Administration have only linked Darden to the outbreaks in Iowa and Nebraska, a Texas woman is suing the company for the intestinal issues she had after eating at a Dallas Olive Garden. A Darden spokesman told CNN that the company’s Texas restaurants don’t receive food from Taylor Farms de Mexico.


For more InsideCounsel stories about food safety, read:

New food safety proposals have small businesses worried

FDA’s delay in implementing food safety regs illegal

Cheat Sheet: A guide to navigating two new federal consumer safety measures

FDA proposes new food safety rules

Ashley Post

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