Updates To The Chipotle E. Coli Outbreak Bring More Bad News For Burrito Lovers
Bad news, folks: The Center for Disease Control is reporting more E. coli cases possibly linked to Chipotle restaurants in the U.S. Five people in three states — Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Kansas — contracted the bacteria after eating at Chipotle, the agency said Monday. Because it's a different strain of the disease than the one that was responsible for the earlier Chipotle-linked E-coli outbreak, which started in October, the CDC isn't formally considering these new cases to be part of that initial outbreak.
"Since this issue began, we have completed a comprehensive reassessment of our food safety programs with an eye to finding best practices for each of the ingredients we use," Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said in a statement. "We are now in the process of implementing those programs, including high resolution testing of ingredients, end of shelf-life testing of ingredients, continuous improvement in the supply system based on testing data, and enhanced food safety training for all of our restaurant teams."
So, is it safe to eat at Chipotle? Well, it's worth pointing out that these "new" cases of E. coli were contracted a while ago, as the disease takes two to three weeks to show symptoms. In addition, the CDC has pointedly refused, at any point during the outbreak, to issue an advisory to customers warning them to stay away from Chipotle. That's not a guarantee of anything, of course, but it does suggest that the risk is rather low.
Here are the states with cases of E. coli linked to Chipotle, followed by the number of patients in that state who've contracted the disease.
- California (3)
- Illinois (1)
- Maryland (1)
- Minnesota (2)
- New York (1)
- Ohio (3)
- Oregon (13)
- Pennsylvania (2)
- Washington (27)
- Kansas (1)
- Oklahoma (3)
- North Dakota (1)
Additionally, one more person came down with E. coli in Pennsylvania, though the CDC hasn't linked this to Chipotle.
The initial outbreak took place between Oct. 19 and Nov. 14. In response, Chipotle shut down 43 of its restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, where the vast majority of cases were reported, and announced a variety of new safety and hygiene measures to mitigate the problem, which you can read about here. It's still unknown what ingredients in particular are responsible for spreading the disease.
A Chipotle representative acknowledged on Monday that the company had expected to see additional cases reported after the first outbreak, but maintained that Chipotle is "confident that [it] can achieve a level of food safety risk that is near zero.''
But the restaurant's reassurances haven't calmed investors. The company's stock dropped sharply after the initial outbreak and hit a 52-week low on Monday after the CDC announced more cases of the disease.