Who the heck would eat at Taco Bell anytime soon?
At least for the moment and anywhere around the New York City Metropolitan Area and any surrounding counties.
After the e-coli outbreak in northern New Jersey during the first week of December 2006, almost 90 Taco Bell’s across the area shut down. During the outbreak, 39 people in this same area became sick and all of them claimed to have eaten at Taco Bell within recent memory.
Of the 39 people that got sick from eating Taco Bell foods, 2 of them were deemed critically ill and were diagnosed the E. coli.
As a result of so many people getting sick, nine Taco Bells got shut down in New Jersey and Long Island for precautionary reasons. Those nine were inspected, but the rest of the 86 New Jersey Taco Bells and the other 200+ Taco Bells in New York went un-inspected.
That doesn’t really make a lot of sense. After all, in the fast food business, there are so many individual locations that are serviced by so few suppliers. So if one restaurant is contaminated with E. coli ridden food, than the likelihood is that just about all of the other restaurants serviced by the same suppliers are contaminated as well.
But even after the inspection of the nine Taco Bells, experts are not sure as to what specifically may have caused so many people to become ill from eating Taco Bell. Thus, the word out on Taco Bells in the NYC area is that food that was contaminated has passed through the system and that there is nothing else to worry about.
Well, Taco Bell ought to start to worry about its business.
A man from Pennsylvania recently filed a lawsuit against Yum Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, after claiming to have become sick from eating a chalupa and a quesadilla at the Irvine-based restaurant chain. Professionals expect that there will be a growing number of claims filed against the number as a result of the E. coli outbreak. At this point, a Taco Bell representative claims to have already been contacted by 20 potential prosecutors.
With a reported 62 people sickened by Taco Bell in 6 different states, Taco Bell is hurting on the Wall Street. Yum Brands stock fell $1.36 on December 8th. Include that with their results during the two days prior, and Yum Brands stock has fallen 5.6% in just three days.
With more people expected to become sick in the near future (due to the fact that it can take up to a week for E. coli to cause illness), there are many more suits that will be filed against Yum Brands in the near future. As a result, Yum Brands is expected to take a temporary hit in their sales revenue. The effect will last as long as the momentum of the E. coli outbreak continues to build.
As for consumers, I’m not sure why any of them will continue to eat at Taco Bell. However, some of those who have been interviewed seem to buy into the fact that the E. coli ridden products have cleared through the system and that they are willing to take their chances eating the food due to its low price and tasty foods.
Subsequently, most people who have been interviewed seem to carry the sentiment that if Taco Bell can’t clarify what it is that is spreading E. coli, than they can’t be sure that the outbreak is over, nor that there won’t be one that is soon to follow. And with Yum Brands not electing to inspect all of their restaurants within the 2 key states effected by this outbreak, who can blame them?