An E. coli outbreak that spread to nine states has been connected to Iowa-based chain Pizza Ranch, reports the Des Moines Register, but health officials have declared the outbreak to be over. Thirteen people were sickened, two were sent to hospitals, and no deaths were reported.
A spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control told the Register nine of the people sickened reported eating at a Pizza Ranch location before falling ill. An investigation into the chain focused on a dry dough mixture used in desserts, but no bacteria were found in the mixture. The outbreak reportedly ended after Pizza Ranch stopped using the product in February.
In a statement released Wednesday, Pizza Ranch chief administrative officer Ryan Achterhoff blamed the outbreak on one of the chain's suppliers.
"The fact pattern shows that the source of bacteria originated from an outside supplier rather than at our restaurants," Achterhoff said. "Several states collected products from Pizza Ranch restaurant locations to test for the presence of E.coli O157 though it was not found in any products tested. Pizza Ranch independently ran over 40 tests on different products to test for the presence of E. coli O157 and it was not found in any products tested. We provided public health investigators with a list of all of our ingredients as well as contact information for our ingredient suppliers. We also contacted the supplier of our dough mixes regarding this issue with the request that they cooperate with state and federal health officials."
With the case closed, Achterhoff says all Pizza Ranch locations are "open and serving their full menu." This outbreak is more proof that foodborne illnesses are on the rise in America.