As we reported earlier this week, Chipotle shut down all of its restaurants in Oregon and Washington after health officials had linked an outbreak of E. coli to its restaurants in both states. As of Friday, three people in and around Portland had become sick from E. coli, as well as 19 from the western Washington area. Of those twenty one people, 17 had eaten at Chipotle during the past few weeks. Eight had been hospitalized, but no deaths had been reported.
Now that number seems to be growing. As of Tuesday, there were 25 cases reported in Washington, of which 23 had eaten at Chipotle before getting sick. In Oregon, the number had grown to 12. A dozen people had been hospitalized between the two states, though there were thankfully still no deaths reported.
Initially, Chipotle claimed only six restaurants were potentially involved, but on Tuesday, it revised that figure to eight. Thus far, Chipotle has voluntarily closed 43 of its restaurants in Washington and Oregon.
In addition to the closures, Chipotle has taken a number of other steps to combat the outbreak, including:
- Subjecting locations to a deep cleaning and full sanitation.
- Replacing all food, and batch testing new ingredients prior to supplying them to restaurants.
- Hiring two independent food safety consulting firms, including the Seattle-based IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group, to help assess and improve the company’s food-safety standards.
- Environmental testing of Chipotle restaurants, food, and distribution centers is being conducted by health department officials.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first infectious disease outbreak for the chain this year, and it remains to be seen what the long-term effects of this will be on customers’ willingness to continue eating there.
[via Nation’s Restaurant News]