Another food chain is under investigation for the rise in E. coli cases: Chipotle. There has been about forty confirmed cases in eight Chipolte locations for the bacterial poisoning in Washington state and Oregon. This is not the first time Chipotle has experienced an outbreak like this – this year alone it is their this safely incident. Chipotle seems to finally be taking the right steps to improve food safety and have decided to temporally shut down 43 locations in Oregon and Washington state.
Of the 35 cases that are going on, it was confirmed that the source of twelve cases took place in Oregon while the larger half occurred in Washington. Two more cases in Washington came from individuals who said it was their first time they purchased food from the restaurant and contracted the bacteria. There were a dozen sick people that had to be hospitalized in Washington, but this number is likely going to increase as more people discover news of the recent outbreak.
Chipotle released a statement stating that they are working hard to ensure these locations get deep cleaned and sanitized. The restaurant chain also plan on testing the contents of the food within the company and distribution centers in the two states. They also hired a pair of food safely consultants to monitor, access, confirm their mission to meet safety standards.
Investigators are still looking hard to find the origin of the bacteria, and they had a strong feeling that it is likely fresh produce. However, Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for public health says that finding the suspect will be hard because a vast majority of Chipotle’s menu have similar ingredients. CDC and Prevention director, Dr. Tom Frieden said that they are still not aware of which food is the source nor are they certain if all the cases that have been reported are even related to one another just yet. He does mention that they are aware the company shut down several of their chains until they receive enough information. The CDC also mentioned that they found out that any food-borne related outbreak are more likely to happen at a local level.
However, it’s the large, regional outbreaks the CDC finds to be more serious. They reported that the primary causes of multistate outbreak, such as E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella alone make up 90% of multistate outbreaks. They are the main culprits in food illness you find in produce foods, like veggies or fruits, chicken, or beef.
Dr. Kathleen Gensheimer of the Food Drug Administration added that the company did speak with Chipotle’s senior manager. Although they are still did not find the source, Chipotle is being cooperative and share their records with the FDA. Health officials are asking anyone who did eat at the restaurant to contact their healthcare provider, especially if they are kids or the elderly, or if they are experiencing vomiting or bloody stool.
Health officials are doing what they can to find the cause as soon as possible. Seattle safety lawyer Bill Marler states that things will not be looking too hot for Chipotle in the legal department if they are not successful in finding the one ingredient that is making people ill. They have previously been sued for health safety reason before such as in 2009 when there was an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in the state of Oregon. There was also salmonella in Minnesota and a norovirus outbreak in California past year.
On a better note, the strain of E. coli is different this time around) and milder than the strain from 2009. While investigations are still going on, the company is still dealing with the previous lawsuits in Simi Valley, California. The company’s shares are already shut down to 0.1% at about $620. Chipotle has reached the lowest levels yet since July because of the fright the bacteria is causing. They may have to brace themselves because the food-borne illness could steer customers from coming to their 2,000 locations completely in the US. Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s communications director is positive the company will jump over the hurdle. He said the company truly cares about the well-being and safety of their buyers. They are offering their deepest condolences to the people who have been affected by the situation.