Yum Brands Inc. said Wednesday that 11 lawsuits have been filed against the company and its Taco Bell Corp. subsidiary for an E. coli outbreak in November and December.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the outbreak was associated with food at Taco Bell restaurants in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware. The CDC said that 71 people fell ill because of the outbreak.
In its annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Louisville-based Yum said the stores named in at least five of the lawsuits are not company-owned, and therefore, Yum believes it is not liable for any losses at those stores. Yum said it has provided for the estimated litigation costs.
The company has said that the E. coli outbreak cost it about $20 million in the fourth quarter because of lost sales and franchise and license fees, and increased marketing costs.
Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell operates in 14 countries and territories. As of the end of 2006, there were 5,608 Taco Bell stores in the United States and 238 international stores. About 23 percent of the U.S. units and 1 percent of the non-U.S. units are company-owned.