Health Officials Investigating Chipotle For Different E.Coli Strain, Five Illnesses

While Chipotle CEO Steven Ells was busy riding the apology train, issuing regrets for a recent E.coli outbreak that sickened more than 50 people in nine states and a norovirus outbreak in Boston involving 140 students, the fast casual chain was being linked to five separate illnesses in three more states. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that it is investigating a link between Chipotle and five people infected with a different, rare strain DNA fingerprint strain of E.coli.

According to the CDC, all five people became sick between Nov. 18 and Nov. 26 after eating at Chipotle restaurants in Kansas, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.

All three people in Oklahoma who became ill ate at a single Chipotle location in the state. The North Dakotan traveled to Kansas during their exposure period and ate at the same Chipotle location as the Kansan who became ill.

The CDC says it’s unclear if the new illnesses are related to the larger E.coli outbreak currently affecting 52 people in California, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

A spokesperson for Chipotle tells Bloomberg that the company believes that the illnesses are related, and they are working with the DCD and FDA to investigate.

Since Chipotle was linked to the larger outbreak in October, the company has undertaken additional food safety measures.

Last week, Ells said the company is striving to get as close to perfect food safety as possible with new procedures and testing inside and outside their restaurants.

Though Ells noted that the company will never know for sure which ingredient at Chipotle was tainted with E. coli, prompting this most recent outbreak, but that the company will be adding more testing, as well as cutting, washing and testing tomatoes at central commissaries to ensure they are as clean as possible.

He then went on to make several public apologies for the outbreaks, taking out a full-age ad in several major U.S. newspapers including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.

[via Bloomberg]

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