Panera Bread may be linked to an E. coli outbreak in New Jersey and health officials are now investigating the matter, Fox News reported.
State health officials confirmed they were eyeing Panera Bread in Phillipsburg, Warren County, after several cases were reported in Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset and Warren.
Sarah Perramant, public health epidemiologist in Warren County, noted that a “cluster” of E. coli cases had prompted health officials to conduct further testing and investigations, but noted that it was still too early to concretely establish whether Panera was the source of the outbreak, according to NJ.com.
She added that some of the cases were reported as far back as March and that only one case had been reported in Warren County.
Meanwhile, Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman from the Department of Health told Newsweek that there were at least eight cases of the bacterial disease reported in four New Jersey counties.
“The state lab is conducting tests to see if the strain of E. coli bacteria (there are many) matches,” she said. “The CDC will then conduct confirmatory tests. The N.J. Department of Health is still awaiting lab tests to determine if these cases are linked at all. As more information becomes available, we will provide that to the public.”
In an interview with New Jersey 101.5, state epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan said the cases could be connected to different locations of a restaurant chain.
“Individuals could have eaten a number of meals in a number of places before getting sick,” she said.
“They could have eaten at several restaurants, at home or eaten food purchased at a supermarket. Sometimes the source of the food that made people sick is never determined. That’s why we conduct many interviews with sick individuals to get food history data.”
Once officials locate the source of the E. coli, they will send it to labs for testing and the findings will then be sent off for confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NJ.com said.
© 2018 Newsmax. All rights reserved.