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Wendy’s lawsuits mount as an E. coli outbreak believed to be linked to its Midwestern lettuce spreads

  • People are filing lawsuits against Wendy’s after being infected with E. coli.
  • The CDC has not confirmed the source of the outbreak, but said many sick people had eaten Wendy’s lettuce.
  • So far, nearly 100 people, ages 3 to 94, have been affected, the CDC said.

Lawsuits against Wendy’s are piling up as an E. coli outbreak, believed to be caused by romaine lettuce served on its sandwiches, continues to spread, with nearly 100 cases in the Midwest and one now reported in New York.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that so far 97 people have been affected by the outbreak in six states: Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and New York. The last two states are new to the list.

“A specific food has not yet been confirmed to be the cause of this outbreak, but many sick people reported eating hamburgers and romaine lettuce sandwiches at Wendy’s restaurants before getting sick,” the CDC said.

Of the 81 people for whom information is available, the CDC said 43 have been hospitalized as part of the outbreak and 10 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious and rare condition that can cause kidney failure.

No deaths have been reported, the CDC said.

“The actual number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the reported number, and the outbreak may not be limited to states with known diseases,” the CDC said, explaining that it can take up to a month to determine whether an disease has been linked to an outbreak and that some people recover without medical care or have not been tested for E. coli.

As the cases increase, a number of lawsuits have been filed against Wendy’s.

Marler Clark, a Seattle-based food safety law firm, has filed six lawsuits against Wendy’s and its lettuce supplier, representing 36 people.

Two of the complaints were filed in Michigan and four in Ohio.

According to a lawsuit, a woman in Michigan began experiencing E. coli symptoms four days after eating a hamburger at Wendy’s. She was then hospitalized for 12 days.

An Ohio resident was hospitalized for a week after eating a hamburger at Wendy’s, another lawsuit says.

“More lawsuits will be filed in the coming days,” the company said on Wednesday.

Wendy’s did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, which was made outside of normal business hours.

The CDC said that of the 67 people for whom it collected detailed food histories, 81% said they had eaten at Wendy’s in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio or Pennsylvania in the week before their illness started. The sick people had eaten “a variety of menu items,” and their illnesses started between July 26 and August 15, the CDC said.

According to the CDC, the E. coli outbreak has been identified in 58 people in Michigan, 24 in Ohio, 11 in Indiana, two in Pennsylvania and one in Kentucky and New York. The people are between three and 94 years old, according to the CDC.

The CDC said Wendy’s is cooperating with the investigation and has removed the lettuce in sandwiches in the area.

Wendy’s uses a different type of romaine lettuce in its salads, and there is currently no evidence that lettuce sold in grocery stores or served in other restaurants is linked to the outbreak, the CDC said.

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