Chipotle Had Another E. Coli Outbreak And Didn’t Tell The Public

You’ve most likely heard by now about the Chipotle food poisoning outbreak in the Pacific Northwest, which drew attention out of proportion to its size because of the company’s reaction: closing all restaurants in the Seattle and Portland areas for a week and a half, starting on Halloween, after they learned about the recent outbreak. What the public didn’t know was that there was another, smaller outbreak in July. It was over so quickly that officials never announced it.

Food poisoning outbreaks in restaurants are publicized so victims know to come forward, and have some idea where their sudden bloody diarrhea a week after eating that burrito bowl may have come from. In the case of this five-person outbreak, officials told the Oregonian, they weren’t able to figure out which ingredient was to blame, but did trace the outbreak to Chipotle.

The July outbreak put a higher proportion of diners in the hospital than the outbreak in October: 40% of people who reported their illness were hospitalized. It’s likely that there wer many others who were sick, but didn’t visit a doctor for testing, and didn’t know to come forward.

Chipotle cooperated with the investigation, letting inspectors check and test equipment, food, and they even tested employees. The strain was E. coli O26, but inspectors weren’t able to find it in any ingredients or on any surfaces.

By the time authorities tracked the pathogen to Chipotle, the incubation period for the disease was over, and there was no point in alerting the public. Right? The county is considering telling people about outbreaks that have already passed in the future.

Chipotle involved in 4th outbreak this year that was kept secret [Oregonian]

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