The Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant chain is in the news again. And again for all the wrong reasons. Five more E. coli cases have been linked to Chipotle in Kansas, Oklahoma and North Dakota; the dates range from November 18 to November 26. If you recall, Chipotle had an E. coli outbreak in October; mostly the outbreaks occurred in Oregon and Washington. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating whether or not the current outbreak in Kansas, Oklahoma and North Dakota is linked to the E.coli outbreak in October. Thus far the CDC’s investigation has failed to link the E. coli contamination to a specific item. The task for identifying the food source is difficult because of the fast turnover of produce in the Chipotle chains.
In addition to E. coli infection, there have been other foodborne infections linked to Chipotle, including Salmonella and Norovirus since September. In all, an estimated 500 people have been sickened after eating at Chipotle in recent months. Chipotle founder and CEO, Steve Ells told NBC News last week that “We have thoroughly tested our food, we have thoroughly tested our surfaces and we are confident that Chipotle is a safe place to eat.” He promised the implementation of better food safety measures. A Chipotle spokesman told NBC News that they were “confident that they can achieve a level of food safety risk that is near zero.” Despite promises of better food safety measures, more outbreaks are being reported. Consumers are taking notice and as a result Chipotle sales have fallen. The chains’ stock is down 30% since August.
Unsure of the signs and symptoms of E. coli infection, read an earlier post from SistersInHealth.com here.