Fast-food chain Wendy’s is facing multiple lawsuits as the number of illnesses potentially related to its restaurants in the Midwest reached 75.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 37 people in four states — Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — have been infected with E. coli.
The agency has not confirmed the source of the outbreak but reported people falling ill after eating romaine lettuce on sandwiches from Wendy’s.
Updated numbers from state health officials indicate that the outbreak is worse than what was reported by the CDC.
The CDC website reports 15 cases in Michigan, but the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) confirmed 115 cases — 53 of which have been verifiably linked to Wendy’s "with more to be expected" as the agency awaits results, said MDHHS Associate Public Information Officer Chelsea Wuth.
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"The 53 count has had genome sequencing to confirm they are linked to this outbreak, while it is highly likely that most of the other cases are linked but not all have undergone genome sequencing," Wuth said. "Kind of like COVID sequencing, we don’t sequence every single specimen but a representation of them."
In response to the outbreak, Wendy’s announced that it would remove the greens from items in "certain Midwestern states."
"We have taken the precaution of discarding and replacing the sandwich lettuce at some restaurants in that region," the fast-food restaurant said last week.
Ten people infected across the four states are represented by food safety lawyer William Marler, who filed lawsuits in Wood County, Ohio, and Oakland County, Michigan. Marler said he is filing a second complaint in Wood County on Wednesday.
Two of the plaintiffs ate a Dave’s Single Hamburger and the other ate a Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe.
All plaintiffs fell ill with stomach pain and diarrhea days after consumption. One of the plaintiffs was hospitalized twice.
Marler predicts that the total number infected will be "closer to 200 when all are accounted for."