The E.coli scare linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants that sickened customers in several states and caused company stock to plummet has been declared over by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The investigation has come to a close even though it was never determined what food or ingredient caused the outbreak. The CDC said:
When a restaurant serves food with several ingredients that are mixed or cooked together and then used in multiple menu items, it can be more difficult for epidemiologic studies to identify the specific ingredient that is contaminated.
Company officials released a statement saying “we are pleased that the CDC has concluded its investigation, and we have offered our full cooperation throughout.” The announcement by the CDC finally offers some positive news for the burrito chain after months of reports of foodborne illnesses linked to Chipotle restaurants across the country.
The first blow came last summer when a single Chipotle location in California was blamed for infecting nearly 10 customers with norovirus, the so-called “vomiting bug.” Then in September, tomatoes at Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota were linked to dozens of cases of diarrhea-causing salmonella infections. Two months later, the company temporarily closed 43 restaurants in Seattle and Portland after more than 20 people fell ill from bloody diarrhea-causing E.coli over a two-week period after dining at the restaurants. In December, more than 120 Boston College Chipotle eaters fell ill with norovirus. Later that month, five new cases of E.coli emerged in North Dakota, Kansas and Oklahoma.
The company said it has conducted a complete comprehensive reassessment of its food safety programs at all its chains in the U.S., which includes “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.” The company still faces criminal charges related to a norovirus outbreak last August at a Simi Valley, Calif., Chipotle restaurant. Those charges were brought by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of California. There have been a number of civil lawsuits filed around the county, most of them being class actions, and the cases are still pending.
Sources: RightingInjustice.com and Los Angeles Times