The fast-food operator voluntarily closed the unit last Thursday while health officials conducted their investigation.
Seven of the victims are still hospitalized. Two of the patients have developed a serious condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome that can permanently damage the kidneys. At least two of the victims were adults, while several others range in age from 7 to 14, health officials reported. At least 15 of the victims come from towns in Middlesex, Monmouth and Somerset counties.
Health officials said an inspection of the restaurant last week did not show any significant health code violations. Tests were being performed on stool samples from 21 restaurant employees. Officials, who were still looking for a few other employees from the restaurant, expect to have results today.
Rob Poetsch, a spokesman for Irvine, CA-based Taco Bell Corp., said in a prepared statement that the unit and its food have been tested by the Middlesex County Health Department and were given passing grade. He pointed out that employees are required to adhere to strict food handling rules.