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Chasing Outbreaks: How Safe Is Our Food?

A 1993 E. coli outbreak linked Jack in the Box hamburgers sickened 700 people and acted as a wake up call about the dangers of food-borne illness. More than 20 years later, how far have we come?

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Chasing Outbreaks: How Safe Is Our Food?

Produced by Scott Michels and Drew Magratten
Original Release
May 11, 2015
Multimedia Report:
The Evolution of Modern Food Safety

A 1993 E. coli outbreak linked Jack in the Box hamburgers sickened 700 people and acted as a wake up call about the dangers of food-borne illness. More than 20 years later, how far have we come?

In early 1993, the Washington State health department warned that a bacterium most Americans had never heard of, E. coli O157:H7, was making dozens of people sick—and spreading rapidly. The likely culprit: undercooked hamburgers from the Jack in the Box fast-food chain. Ultimately, more than 700 people fell ill and four children died during what proved to be one of the most significant food poisoning outbreaks in U.S. history.

The “Jack in the Box” outbreak was a wake-up call about the dangers in the food supply, the first time that many Americans realized that eating dinner could be deadly. It led to major changes in industry practices and government oversight of the food supply. But, more than 20 years later, how safe is the food supply?

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