The Stuffed Mushroom Incident That Caused An Olive Garden Lawsuit

Plate of stuffed mushrooms
Plate of stuffed mushrooms - Tatiana Volgutova/Shutterstock

If you're craving some Italian-inspired cuisine, Olive Garden serves up plenty of appetizers, pastas, and — of course — the iconic garlicky breadsticks. However, not everyone has a pleasant dining experience there — and one discontinued appetizer was the center of a lawsuit against the restaurant. In 2019, Olive Garden was sued by a Texas woman who sustained burns while eating the restaurant's stuffed mushrooms.

CBS News reported that Danny Howard sat down to dine at Olive Garden on August 11, 2017. She ordered the stuffed portobello mushroom appetizer, which consisted of mushroom caps full of clams, topped with bread crumbs, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. However, when Howard took a bite, the mushroom began to burn her mouth.

She then began to choke on the food, causing her throat to burn as well. She could not speak or breathe, so she sought help by moving throughout the restaurant. Eventually, she made her way to the kitchen station and vomited, thus removing the mushroom. Unfortunately for Howard, the burns continued to hurt her mouth and throat.

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Howard Needed Medical Attention For The Burns

Olive Garden stuffed mushrooms appetizer
Olive Garden stuffed mushrooms appetizer - X, formerly known as Twitter

After the incident at the restaurant, Howard began to head home. However, while she was driving, she determined that the burns in her mouth and throat may have needed medical attention. She diverted her course to go to the emergency room instead. However, she claimed that her throat began to close up while she was driving.

Howard ended up calling 911, fearing that she would suffocate before she was able to make it to the hospital herself. An ambulance arrived to take her to Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth. However, after being seen by medical staff, she was airlifted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas. There, she was attended to in the burn unit.

The lawsuit claimed that the restaurant was negligent in not warning Howard about the temperature of the mushrooms. The court filing claimed that the mushrooms "were defective and unsafe." Howard sought anywhere from $200,000 to $1 million in damages.

The Appetizer Was Removed From Menus

Olive Garden logo on bag
Olive Garden logo on bag - Bloomberg/Getty Images

It's unclear if Howard's case was ever settled, and publicity seems to have died down after the initial lawsuit filing. However, Olive Garden did wind up removing the cheesy stuffed mushrooms from the menu altogether. One Reddit thread shared speculation that the removal was due to a menu overhaul to simplify menus during COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020.

Although the mushrooms may be gone from menus now, some fans of the appetizer still express their appreciation for them online. "Got the sudden craving of eating Olive Garden," wrote one user on X, formerly known as Twitter, in November 2023. "I miss their stuffed mushrooms."

"Does anyone remember Olive Garden stuffed mushrooms," asked another X user. "Because I do. They were my first love." A third X user even suggested the lawsuit may have been the real reason behind the appetizer's disappearance.

Howard's lawsuit wasn't the only legal trouble that Olive Garden has been in. In August 2023, the chain was sued when a Michigan man alleged that he'd found a rat's foot in his soup.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.