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Mighty Taco identifies source of refried beans being tested after illnesses

Mighty Taco said Thursday that the batch of refried beans suspected of sickening 140 customers in Erie County earlier this month was produced by Pellegrino Food Products Co, Inc. which Mighty Taco described as "an approved FDA and USDA facility."

Pellegrino makes the refried beans exclusively for Mighty Taco, they said.

"As is protocol in any investigation, this production site was recently visited by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and we too are awaiting their findings," the statement said.

The beans are being tested by the New York State Health Department.

Here's the full statement that Mighty Taco issued Thursday afternoon:

UPDATED PUBLIC STATEMENT
OCTOBER 13, 2016

Here are answers for our many loyal customers to the most frequent questions of interest:

What Happened?

On Oct 6, Mighty Taco removed and discarded from our restaurants a batch of refried beans. This action was taken voluntarily, without any request from the Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”), out of an abundance of caution for our customers.

The Erie County Department of Health press release earlier this week stated that 140 individuals had been identified who reported becoming ill shortly after consuming refried beans between Sept 30 and Oct. 6. Mighty Taco continues to cooperate fully with the ECDOH and other public regulatory agencies on this matter.

Can I Still Have My Mighty Taco?

Absolutely. Customers can continue to dine with us knowing that this was an isolated and unprecedented situation that we have not encountered in our 43 year history of serving the Western New York public. We are extremely proud of our impeccable health and safety record.

It should be noted that Jeffrey Jurewicz, a Senior Public Health Sanitarian at the Environmental Division of the ECDOH publicly stated “Mighty Taco’s food safety inspection record with our Department, across all their locations in Erie County, has been exceptional.”(Source: ECDOH Press Release, October 11, 2016)

The results of these unannounced inspections can be found at: www.healthspace.com/erieny

What is the cause of the reported illnesses?

Samples of the suspect batch of refried beans were sent to the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center public health laboratories for testing on October 7, 2016. We are awaiting their findings. Since the batch was removed from use on October 6, 2016, both the Erie & Niagara County Departments of Health have received no further reports of suspected illness.

How did the refried beans get to Mighty Taco?

Mighty Taco outsources the production of its refried beans. The refried beans are a proprietary product made exclusively for Mighty Taco and supplied ONLY to Mighty Taco. The producer, Pellegrino Food Products Co, Inc., is an approved FDA and USDA facility. As is protocol in any investigation, this production site was recently visited by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and we too are awaiting their findings.

What has Mighty Taco done to prevent this from happening again?

Mighty Taco remains in constant communication with the producer. We have directed Pellegrino Food Products to ensure that ingredients used in future batches of our refried beans will not be sourced from the same lot numbers as those ingredients used in the suspect batch.

What does all this mean?

As demonstrated by our quick response and actions, Mighty Taco takes this situation very seriously. We remain committed to providing the best quality products to the thousands of customers we serve daily. We are extremely grateful for the understanding and patronage of our customers and their ongoing support of a longtime, homegrown Buffalo business that provides more than 600 jobs in our 24 Western New York locations.

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