William Marler, a food safety advocate and attorney who is representing 10 victims of an E. coli outbreak at several Taco John’s locations in Iowa and Minnesota, called today on Taco John’s to pay the medical bills of all individuals who became ill with E. coli infections as part of the outbreak.

“We know that at least 26 people were hospitalized during this outbreak,” Marler said. “Some families are already facing bills in the tens of thousands of dollars. It’s only right that Taco John’s should step up and pay all victims’ medical bills.” 

Marler noted that in other outbreak-situations companies such as Dole, Jack in the Box, Odwalla, Chi-Chi’s and Sheetz advanced medical costs for outbreak victims whose illnesses were traced to their food products. “Other companies have shown their commitment to corporate responsibility and have put their customers first. It is my hope that Taco John’s will follow their lead,” Marler concluded.

Health officials have counted at least 77 people as being part of the outbreak, which was traced to Taco John’s restaurants in Iowa, and Minnesota. The Black Hawk County, Iowa, health department reported that at least 18 people had been hospitalized with E. coli infections after eating at Iowa Taco John’s restaurants, and Minnesota health officials reported 8 hospitalizations. At least two people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication of E. coli infection that can cause kidney failure and central nervous system impairment and requires extended hospitalization and medical treatment.