Pizza Ranch Restaurant is facing a $75,000 lawsuit after a girl who ate there fell seriously ill due to a possible E. coli infection.
The Kansas native 7-year-old girl, identified as S.S., was admitted in a hospital on Feb. 12 a few days after eating in the Pizza Ranch Restaurant and was diagnosed with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a kidney condition caused by the premature red blood cell destruction. She's currently under medication to control the effects of the disease including high blood pressure.
The restaurant is now embroiled in an E. Coli O157 outbreak after 9 of the 13 people — two of which were children — ate there and got infected with the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed. The outbreak was reported mostly in the Midwest, especially in Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota, as well as in farther states like New Jersey and North Carolina. It was declared over on March 16 and was first reported in December.
Pizza Ranch has already expressed concern and therefore acted "proactively in early February when we first learned of a possible issue," chief administrative officer Ryan Achterhoff said. He also mentioned that the company is cooperating with the CDC and state investigations.
It's unclear how the virus got into the food system. Achterhoff has already denied the source is company's food products after the result of more than 40 independent tests on multiple locations came up negative of the virus strain. Thus, it's possible that one of the supplier ingredients was the culprit, which the CDC implied when it focused on desserts.
For this reason, Pizza Ranch had temporarily stopped the use of Original Dough and Skillet Dough mixes and had requested its supplier to cooperate with health officials. It also gave a list of its suppliers and their contact information to the authorities.
Achterhoff also assured the customers of hygiene by directing the chain of restaurants to exercise "precautionary cleaning" on surfaces and equipment particularly when preparing dough.
The Iowa-based restaurant, which offers a full-service menu and the "country's best chicken," has 190 branches in 13 states.