It’s a fact of life: Just about everything we do, no matter how safe we think it is, carries some degree of risk. Heck, just walking down the street can result in everything from a twisted ankle to a piano falling on your head. And while we may hate to admit it, every time we dine at a restaurant we run the risk of contracting a foodborne illness. Here are 11 times when chain restaurants made people really, really sick.
Last October, Chipotle found itself in the midst of a PR nightmare after scores of people were sickened by E. coli and norovirus, and sales (along with the company’s reputation) took a blow that it could take years to recover from. But Chipotle is far from the only chain restaurant to cause a foodborne illness outbreak, and this outbreak was far from the worst ever recorded.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. every year (about one in seven people in the country), resulting in 105,000 hospitalizations and 2,000 deaths. While most of these are the result of improperly prepared home-cooked food, food prepared at restaurants is certainly a regular culprit as well. From sick employees to unwashed vegetables, undercooked meat, cross-contamination, and food left sitting out too long, the risk of contracting foodborne illness is a sad reality of dining out.
When a standalone restaurant makes someone sick, it’s usually dealt with swiftly and professionally. But it’s a whole other ballgame when a national chain sickens dozens of customers. From cross-contaminated watermelon at a Sizzler to contaminated lettuce at Wendy’s, read on to learn about 11 times chain restaurants made their customers gravely ill.