A new report is emerging that Chipotle reported having sick employees at one Los Angeles location to the Department of Public Health, and the department is investigating why. A spokesperson from the L.A. Department of Public Health tells Bustle, “[We are] investigating a report from Chipotle corporate offices of ill employees with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea at the Chipotle located at 4550 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. Chipotle is cooperating with the investigation. Public Health is working to determine the cause of illness.” Quinn Kelsey, Chipotle’s Public Relations and Communications Manager, tells Bustle the location is following corporate policies and is still serving customers at the location in question at this time. “We are aware of some employees who had been ill, and those employees are being held out of work, as is our policy if employees are sick. We reported those illnesses to local health officials per our policy who inspected that restaurant and were pleased with our operations, and the restaurant remains open for business,” Kelsey says.
Additionally, a crowdsourcing website that helps consumers report food-safety concerns noted four incidents of customers getting sick at the same Chipotle location since Dec. 15, but those reports have not been verified. Another Chipotle spokesperson, Chris Arnold, told CNN Money that the company is "aware of a few reports on user generated reporting sites but there is no clinical validation associated with those reports."
The investigation is still ongoing, but the cause of the illness seems to be an isolated incident and not something that has affected multiple Chipotle restaurants in the area or in different states. The spokesperson from the LA Department of Public Health tells Bustle that they have “not received reports from other Chipotle locations at this time.” The affected Chipotle location is taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of its employees and its customers while remaining open.
This isn’t the first time Chipotle has been investigated for possible illness in connection with a location of the restaurant. Over 40 people across at least six states were affected by an E.coli outbreak associated with the restaurant chain in 2015. The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) announced that the outbreak was had been contained in early 2016, but the chain has been associated with other health issues since. Chipotle patrons in Massachusetts and California were exposed to norovirus, a disease that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, in 2016, leading to outbreaks in both states, and there were rodent sightings at a Dallas location in 2017 that caused the restaurant to temporarily close. Gizmodo reports that the chain may have lost over $53 million in lost sales after the reports of the 2016 norovirus outbreak, and CNN Money reports that Chipotle's current stock price fell 5 percent on Dec. 21, when the reports first began to surface.
You may be wondering what should you do if you feel like you’ve gotten sick from any food-borne illness. The LA Department of Public Health has some advice for you. They say that “People with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea should stay well hydrated and should see their primary care provider if the vomiting persists for more than 48 hours. Infants, the elderly, or those who are immunocompromised are at higher risk of complications and should contact their provider if they develop symptoms.” This is good advice no matter if you think you have food-borne illness or other disease, regardless of how you think you got it.
If you're a big fan of Chipotle, it's important not to worry too much about this most recent news. What we know is that it is contained to one location in Los Angeles, and does not appear to be widespread.