Tony Leys of the Des Moines Register reported this morning that Pizza Ranch desserts have been linked to E. coli food poisonings in nine states, federal officials say.
The outbreak started in December, mainly among people who’d eaten at the Iowa-based chain’s restaurants. The CDC reports that 13 people were sickened in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Minnesota. Nine of the people said they recently had eaten at Pizza Ranches. Two children, in Kansas and Nebraska, suffered kidney failure and had to be hospitalized.
The investigation, which wound up focusing on a dry dough mix used to make desserts.
Pizza Ranch released a statement Wednesday morning from its Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Achterhoff:
“Since late January, we have been assisting public health officials who are investigating 13 cases of illness attributed to a specific strain of E. coli O157 bacteria. Nine of the affected individuals reported having eaten at nine different Pizza Ranches in seven states. There are also individuals multiple states away from the nearest Pizza Ranch that reported not eating at Pizza Ranch that have the same strain of E. coli O157, though health investigators have not been able to pinpoint how they contracted the strain. The most recent reported illness related to this outbreak reported eating at one of our locations on January 30, 2016. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told us that it believes the outbreak is concluded.
“We removed our Skillet Dough mix immediately from use in response to information suggesting that this product was a possible common factor in the illnesses and subsequently expanded this product withdrawal to include our Original Dough mix.
“The fact pattern shows that the source of bacteria originated from an outside supplier rather than at our restaurants. Several states collected products from Pizza Ranch restaurant locations to test for the presence of E. coli O157 though it was not found in any products tested. Pizza Ranch independently ran over 40 tests on different products to test for the presence of E. coli O157 and it was not found in any products tested. We provided public health investigators with a list of all of our ingredients as well as contact information for our ingredient suppliers. We also contacted the supplier of our dough mixes regarding this issue with the request that they cooperate with state and federal health officials.
“In addition, we instructed all Pizza Ranch locations to complete a special, precautionary cleaning of all surfaces and equipment used in dough preparation or service. Our franchisees and their team members responded with professionalism and great attention to detail. As a result, we continue to have absolute confidence in the quality and wholesomeness of every item we serve. All Pizza Ranch locations are open and serving their full menu.”
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