Chains including Panera and Red Lobster are getting hit with lawsuits after customers say they became ill after eating contaminated romaine lettuce at restaurants

Shutterstock/Pj AunAn E.coli outbreak has sickened at least 121 people in the United States.

Customers are suing chains for allegedly serving romaine lettuce that had been contaminated with E. coli, resulting in serious illnesses.

Lawsuits against chains including Red Lobster, Panera, and Papa Murphy’s have been filed in response to a food-poisoning outbreak that has sickened at least 121 people in 25 US states. Supplier Freshway Foods has also been hit by two lawsuits.

According to one of at least two lawsuits filed against Panera, Louise Frasher consumed a salad at a Panera restaurant in Flemington, New Jersey, in late March that contained lettuce contaminated by E. coli.

A few days later, Fraser became seriously ill with diarrhoea and abdominal cramps. Eventually, she was hospitalized and diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome as a result of her infection with E. coli, requiring multiple blood transfusions.

A Panera spokesperson told Business Insider that the chain does not comment on ongoing lawsuits. The chain said in a statement on its website that it had removed all romaine from the Yuma, Arizona area, where the E.coli outbreak began, and was “only sourcing our romaine from the Salinas, California area.”

“That means that the lettuce now found in the salads on our menu is unaffected by the recall and not included in the CDC advisory,” the statement reads.

Another lawsuit, one of at least two filed against Red Lobster, claims that Rosalie Styles consumed a Caesar salad made with romaine lettuce at a Red Lobster restaurant in Peoria, Arizona, in late March.

Styles was admitted to the hospital after experiencing nausea, abdominal cramps, fatigue and bloody diarrhoea, according to the complaint. A stool sample tested positive for E. coli.

The lawsuits are asking the chains for compensation for damages, including pain and suffering related to the E. coli outbreak, as well as past and future medical expenses.

People infected with E coli in the US May 2 CDCBI Graphics

In April, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention made its original recommendation that Americans avoid any form of romaine lettuce. Since then, at least 121 people have gotten sick and one person has died after eating contaminated lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona region.

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