Chipotle Gives An Update Saying It Won't Close More Locations After E. Coli Outbreak, & It Could Be OK To Eat

Friday afternoon was rough for Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle, at least as far as the market was concerned. After the Centers for Disease Control released an afternoon update on the E. coli outbreak which they've linked to Chipotle, revealing that there have been confirmed infections in six different states, their stock value plummeted. And on Saturday, the company further addressed the situation: Chipotle won't close any more locations after the E. coli outbreak because, according to the company, it reflects infections that happened weeks ago.

To this point, the CDC has confirmed 45 cases of Shiga toxin producing E. coli across six different states — Minnesota, California, New York, Ohio, Washington, and Oregon. Thirty-nine of those infections happened in the latter two states, however, where the outbreak was first observed. Speaking to People, Chipotle communications director Chris Arnold explained the company's view of the situation.

At the moment, we do not believe that it is necessary to close any restaurants because [of] the timing of visits. It's important to note that, while these incidents are newly reported, they aren't really new in that exposure would was weeks ago.... We have implemented a number [of] measures in these restaurants, including additional deep cleaning, replacing ingredients, providing supply chain data to investigators, and surveying crew members to determine if any were sick stemming from this.
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People also got confirmation from the CDC that they're not advising people against eating at Chipotle, aligning with the company's perspective for the time being at the very least. If you or somebody you know is concerned about E. coli, it's a good idea to bear the symptoms in mind — here are the signs and symptoms the CDC says to look out for:

  • People usually get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) 2-8 days (average of 3-4 days) after swallowing the organism (germ).Most people infected with STEC develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps. Most people recover within a week.
  • Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).HUS can occur in people of any age, but is most common in young children under 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of HUS can include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue and irritability, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, and decreased urination. People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Obviously, in lieu of any specific suggestions from public health agencies, you should make your own best judgments about where you eat. But there is some reason to think Chipotle's optimism is warranted, based on the clustering of the confirmed E. coli cases, and on the assumption that the root problem seems to have been remedied. As the CDC's outbreak graphic illustrates above, there hasn't been a confirmed new onset of the E. coli strain since November 8, about two weeks ago. It does note that new illnesses after the start of November may not have been reported yet, however, as that depends on people falling ill and seeking care — the CDC says this takes an average of two to four weeks.