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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Many still wary of Taco Bell

USA Today

About 1 in 3 frequent fast-food customers say they plan to eat less often at Taco Bell or not at all as a result of the chain's recent E. coli outbreak, according to a poll done for USA Today.

Yet the online poll, by food service research firm Sandelman & Associates, shows fast-food customers are satisfied with how Taco Bell handled the crisis in which 71 people fell ill after eating at the Mexican-style chain. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed rate Taco Bell's actions after the outbreak as "good," "very good" or "excellent."

"It's clearly affecting their business," says Bob Sandelman, chief executive of the research firm. "But Taco Bell appears to be on the road to recovery."

Other chains, including McDonald's and Burger King, were affected to a lesser degree by E. coli outbreaks.

The poll of 311 people who eat fast food at least once a month and were aware of the E. coli at fast-food chains was conducted Friday to Monday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. It noted that federal health officials suspect lettuce as the probable cause of the outbreaks at Taco Bell and that the outbreaks had been limited to four East Coast states, with no cases reported since Dec. 3.