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Cabbage likely culprit in Applebee's E. coli cases, investigation finds

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Health investigators say cabbage was the likely culprit in an outbreak of E. coli illnesses that sickened more than a dozen people in Minnesota this summer.

The Associated Press reports the Minnesota Department of Health says the cabbage was likely contaminated before it arrived in Minnesota.

Most of the 15 E. coli cases health officials confirmed during the outbreak struck people who had eaten at Applebee's restaurants. Nine of the chain's Minnesota outlets were tied to the illnesses, which occurred in late June and early July. Several reported eating a chicken salad dish. Applebee's temporarily pulled the item off the menu at its Minnesota restaurants.

As Food Safety News reports, Minnesota officials traced the cabbage to a supplier outside the state and are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the continuing investigation. According to their article, the particular strain of E. coli in this outbreak is one not previously found in the U.S.

The Health Department says four people were hospitalized and all of them recovered.

A Minneapolis law firm is suing Applebee's on behalf of a Hudson, Wisconsin, man who says he became sick after eating at the restaurant's Woodbury location.

The E. coli cases thought to be caused by tainted cabbage are separate from another outbreak of 13 illnesses that health officials have linked to a traveling petting zoo.

The Health Department says there are more than 700 types of E. coli bacteria found in the intestines of humans and animals. While most are harmless, a few strains lead to illnesses. The symptoms – such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea – usually subside after several days but those with weaker immune systems are more prone to complications.

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