The Latest Outbreak of E.coli Plagues Chipotle

Everyone’s favorite and “healthy” texmex place has just been plagued with another outbreak of E.coli. After the company has already dealt with the first outbreak notice in October where 53 people in nine states were poisoned with a different strain, Chipotle vowed to be the “safest place to eat”. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday, December 22, that it is investigating a more recent outbreak of a rare strain of E.coli linked to the Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.

Earlier this month, Steve Ellis, CEO of Chipotle apologized on the TODAY show to those who have been sickened and promised stringent new guidelines to protect consumers from any future health issues. He stated, “The procedures we’re putting in place to eat are so above industry norms that we are going to be the safest place to eat.” This apology was after two initial outbreaks stemming from several states including California, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, among many others. The company had to close 43 restaurants in Oregon and Washington in late October after health officials discovered most of the people sickened in the outbreak had eaten at Chipotle. One restaurant in particular infected about 120 students at Boston College in Massachusetts.

This specific location has been cited for three critical violations by health officials and has been voluntarily closed by the company. The E.coli infections or specifically dubbed ‘norovirus’ is a fast-spreading airborne bug that causes gastrointestinal distress and usually lasts for a few days.

Ellis cautioned the public by stating, “With the norovirus, we have heard that this is the extent of it, but it’s a disease that is very easily passed and so it spreads very quickly from person to person. When we are re-open, the [Boston] restaurant will be completely sanitized, and every single employee will have been tested and assured that they do not have norovirus.”

Continued he said, “It’s true, we’ve had teams looking at this. We’ve closed our restaurants out of an abundance of caution and tested all the ingredients, surfaces, thousands and thousands of tests, and they all came back negative for E.coli and so if there’s a silver lining in this, it’s that we have looked at every single ingredient we use as Chipotle.”[1]

Another Outbreak

With the promise of cleanlier food and quality ingredients, it seemed as though the company was taking the right steps to eradicate the problem. However, as already stated, the most recent outbreak has built upon the number of states infected from 9 to 12. There have been two consumers who fell ill in North Dakota and Kansas that ate at the same restaurant in Kansas as well as while three others that are from Oklahoma who all ate at a local Chipotle restaurant in their state. This latest development in the E.coli outbreaks also brings the affected number of people with the similar strain of the virus from 53 to 58. The FDA said that the evidence available suggests that a common meal item or ingredient served at Chipotle’s restaurants in several states is a likely source of both the outbreaks [2].

The FDA website also states, that together with the CDC and state and local officials, the investigations about the rare DNA fingerprint of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O26 (STEC O26) that is linked to the restaurant chain by a specific food that has yet to be determined. This current outbreak, is genetically varying in similarities than the previous outbreaks but the fact that they ate at Chipotle moves the investigation forward. As the officials are trying to crack down on the exact cause of the norovirus, it’s good to be cautioned before you eat out.

What are the Symptoms of E.coli O26

  • People generally get sick from STEC (Shiga toxin-producing E.coli) 2-8 days or an average of 3-4 days after swallowing the organism (germ).
    • Most people infected with STEC develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps.
    • Most people recover within a week.
  • Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
    • HUS can occur in people of any age, but is most common in young children under 5 years, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
    • Symptoms of HUS can include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue, and irritability, small unexplained bruises, or bleeding from the nose and mouth, and decreased urination.
    • People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.
  • STEC infection is usually diagnosed by testing of a stool sample for Shiga toxins.
    • Clinical laboratories are required in some states to send Shiga toxin-positive specimens from ill people to the state public health laboratory for identification of STEC and PulseNet testing [3].

It’s also extremely important to stress that people of any age can be infected, however, very young children and the elderly are more likely than others to develop serious and severe life-threatening symptoms and correlated illness if infected with HUS. In this particular outbreak, the range of ages are from 1 to 67 years-old.

If you believe you have been infected, you should contact your healthcare provider to ensure that you are taking care of the situation properly. Sometimes in doing so, victims of outbreaks accrue medical bills and suffering that is due to the negligence of the food company. Don’t let giant food chains such as Chipotle get away with it.

Dolman Law Group

Food poisoning from food companies such as Chipotle can be difficult to pursue without the right legal advice. While the evidence is mounting against the fast-food chain and there was a public apology from the CEO in October, unfortunately, more people are falling ill to the outbreak. As a consumer you have the right to collect damages for current and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, among other ailments. An experienced product liability attorney will have the resources to go the distance, if necessary, against the fast-food giants and their insurance companies. Let the experienced lawyers at Dolman Law Group help you today. Call us at (727) 853-6275 to schedule a free consultation and evaluation.

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 853-6275