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E. coli-linked Souplantation closes after more victims are confirmed

SAN DIEGO A Souplantation restaurant linked in late March to at least 12 instances of E. coli infection was closed April 6 after a customer and an employee were confirmed as additional victims.

The buffet restaurant had been permitted to stay open for almost a week after seven illnesses were first traced to the establishment. Three of those initial victims were hospitalized.

All of the victims, including 10 children, ate at the restaurant between March 23 and March 25.

Orange County health officials and Souplantation's parent, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., are still trying to determine the source of the contamination. A reopening date for the restaurant here has not been set.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that the first seven victims were afflicted with a sub-type of E. coli O157:H7 not seen before in California, according to local media reports.

Garden Fresh owns and operates about 100 units, which are called Souplantation in southern California and Sweet Tomatoes elsewhere.

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