Orange City, Iowa — Pizza Ranch restaurants are working with public health officials investigating 13 cases of illness attributed to a specific strain of E. Coli O157 bacteria, according to Pizza Ranch Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Achterhoff.
Achterhoff says nine of the affected individuals reported having eaten at nine different Pizza Ranches in seven states. Achterhoff says there are also individuals multiple states away from the nearest Pizza Ranch that reported not eating at Pizza Ranch that have the same strain of E. Coli O157, though health investigators have not been able to pinpoint how they contracted the strain. The last reported illness related to this outbreak reported eating at a Pizza Ranch on January 30th of this year, according to Achterhoff. He says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have told Pizza Ranch that it believes the outbreak is concluded.
Achterhoff says that Pizza Ranch removed their Skillet Dough mix immediately from use in response to information suggesting that this product was a possible common factor in the illnesses and subsequently expanded this product withdrawal to include their Original Dough mix. He says that it appears the source of bacteria originated from an outside supplier, rather than at Pizza Ranch restaurants. He says several states collected products from Pizza Ranch restaurant locations to test for the presence of E. Coli O157, and that none of those collected products contained the bacteria.
Achterhoff says Pizza Ranch independently ran over 40 tests on different products to test for the presence of E. Coli O157 and it was not found in any products tested. He says they provided public health investigators with a list of all of their ingredients as well as contact information for their ingredient suppliers. He says they also contacted the supplier of their dough mixes regarding the issue, with the request that they cooperate with state and federal health officials. Pizza Ranch has also ceased using this outside supplier to supply its dough mix, according to Achterhoff.
.In addition, Achterhoff says they have instructed all Pizza Ranch locations to complete a special, precautionary cleaning of all surfaces and equipment used in dough preparation or service. He says their franchisees and team members responded with professionalism and great attention to detail. As a result, he says, they continue to have absolute confidence in the quality and wholesomeness of every item they serve. He added that all Pizza Ranch locations are open and serving their full menu.
Achterhoff says the company has no higher commitment than the safety of their guests and their people. He says they will continue to work with public health officials at the local, state and federal levels on this issue and on a daily basis to fulfill that promise.