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No E. Coli in Taco Bell green onions

Dec. 12, 2006 at 10:54 AM

NEW YORK, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Taco Bell removed green onions from its U.S. restaurants after tests showed a "presumptive positive" but federal officials are questioning the results.

David Acheson, chief medical officer for the FDA Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, told The Wall Street Journal "you don't overreact to a presumptive positive." Federal officials said Monday all green onion samples taken in response to the E. coli outbreak have come up negative for the bacteria.

Further complicating the restaurant chain's predicament, a New York state lab says there is an E. coli strain in chopped white onions taken from a bin in a Nassau County Taco Bell. This strain is different from the strain that made 64 people sick in the northeastern United States.

Originally McLane Foodservice Inc., distributor to the restaurants, was linked to the green onion E. coli contamination. But McLane told the Journal New Jersey health authorities found no "evidence of improper storage or handling practices."

Taco Bell issued a statement on its Web site Monday, stating the company has changed its produce supplier and no person has reported an E. coli-based illness since Dec. 2.

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