Health Dept. update: Mighty Taco illnesses

Customer To Mighty Taco: "Shame On You"

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. -- The Erie County Department of Health issued an update Tuesday on a foodborne illness outbreak at a Mighty Taco in the county. 

140 individuals have reported getting sick from eating at a Mighty Taco between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6. Health department officials say the individuals reported symptoms including nausea and vomiting after eating the restaurant's refried beans.

Individuals in Niagara County also reported getting sick from eating at a Mighty Taco to the county's health department. On Tuesday, the total number of people who reported being sick was at 27. In total, 167 people have reported getting sick from eating at a Mighty Taco. 

The Erie County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale Burstein, said there have been no reports of illnesses associated with eating the refried beans after Oct. 6 as the suspect food product was removed from all Mighty Taco locations on Oct. 6th and have been thrown out. 

Some of the suspected food will be tested at the New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center laboratories in Albany. Officials say they do not know when results will be available. 

"During our onsite inspections of Mighty Taco's Erie County locations, no additional food products or food handling practices were implicated," said Jeffrey Jurewicz, Senior Public Health Sanitarian. "Mighty Taco's food safety inspection record with our Department, across all their locations in Erie County, has been exceptional." 

An investigation being conducted with the New York State Department of Health, Niagara County Department of Health and the state Department for Agriculture and Markets continues. 

Brenda Geedy works near the Mighty Taco on French and Transit in Depew. She got sick last week.

"I'm not a regular there, but, you know, I just thought I felt like having some refried beans that night," says Brenda Geedy.

She stopped by after work Wednesday and ended up having to stay home Thursday and Friday.

"Really, really bad stomach cramps, pains. I just couldn't take it," explained Geedy.

"Had you ever gotten that sick before?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.

"No, never, ever," said Geedy.

Geedy immediately called the Erie County Health Department and went to the doctor Saturday.

She isn't alone. We spoke with another woman who says she ate at the Mighty Taco on Transit and Wehrle and had to go home sick after lunch last week.

Both are waiting for their medical bills and also have lost wages.

We wanted to get answers for these women and the dozens of others who reported getting sick, so we filled out the “contact us” form on Mighty Taco's website and emailed COO Russell Jasulevich requesting an on-camera, Skype or phone interview.

Mighty Taco Chief Operating Officer Russell Jasulevich issued a statement to 2 On Your Side in response to our request for an interview Tuesday about whether the company would be paying for medical bills related to the illnesses. Jasulevich said: “Mighty Taco has, and always will take care of our customers. Claims can be submitted using “Contact Us” on our website at www.mightytaco.com/contact

But then the COO tried recalling the email. So we called him. After we left that voicemail, the COO tried recalling the email again. Jasulevich never called back.

2 On Your Side's Erica Brecher went to Mighty Taco's corporate headquarters in East Amherst Friday, and no one would talk with her there.

We showed Geedy the COO's email Tuesday evening.

"Are you confident with that response that you'll get a response from them?" asked Dudzik.

"No. No, I'm sure. I would try it, but I don't know what kind of a response. Probably an I'm sorry, but I don't know if I would get anything more than that," said Geedy.

Geedy says she would not go back to eat at Mighty Taco. If she does get to speak with someone from the company, she knows what she would say.

"First I would say shame on you. That's the mom in me coming out I guess. I don't know what would I say like how did you let this happen? How did you not know? How could you let people eat contaminated food?" said Geedy.

"And are you hoping that they step up and pay your medical bills?" asked Dudzik.

"Yeah, I would like for them to do something. I mean, yeah," said Geedy.


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