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IRWINDALE, Calif. -- Ready Pac, which produces a limited run of green onions exclusively for Taco Bell, has taken immediate precautionary measures to protect public health by stopping production and shipments of all green onions.
The move comes after green onions served at Taco Bell restaurants tested positive for e.Coli, making them a possible source of contamination which infected 65 people in New Jersey, Long Island and Pennsylvania. The onions were pulled from all 5,800 Taco Bell restaurants in the nation, according to media reports.
"Even though the test results are not confirmed, we have taken every prudent precaution and immediately stopped production and shipments of all green onions," said Steve Dickstein, vice president of marketing for Ready Pac. Green onions are only produced in one section of Ready Pac’s Florence, N.J. plant. "All raw and processed green onions have been removed from the plant as part of our precautionary measures."
Ready Pac is working with Taco Bell, regulatory agencies and industry experts to determine the root cause of this issue. Ready Pac fully cooperated with the FDA and local health officials during their visit Wednesday. All operations are continuing normally, except for the green onion line, which was previously discontinued.
Ready Pac said it purchases green onions from a reputable grower equally committed to food safety. Importantly, green onions are not used in any other product Ready Pac sells to either foodservice restaurants or for retail product distribution.
Testing began after an outbreak of food poisoning expanded earlier this week to cases in Montgomery County, Pa. Taco Bell closed nine restaurants there, and they will remain closed until health officials approve reopening. Since the middle of last week, no additional cases of illness have been reported, but epidemiologists in New Jersey and New York continue to monitor the situation.