AKRON, Ohio--The E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants has now caused 45 cases of illness across six states, including Ohio, according to the CDC. Sixteen of those ill individuals have been hospitalized.
Chipotle told FOX 8 that the affected person in Ohio ate at three different restaurants in five days. On its website, those restaurants are listed as the University of Akron location on East Exchange Street, the Lyndhurst/ Legacy Village location on Cedar Road and the Parma location on West Ridgewood Drive.
According to Chipotle, the source of the problem appears to have been contained in late October.
The first reported cases became ill on October 19 and the most recent cases began feeling sick on November 8.
The youngest patient is 2 and the oldest is 94.
All but two of the sick individuals reported eating at Chipotle within the week before becoming ill.
The source of contamination within the restaurants remains unknown, but health officials believe it is a single ingredient.
- Conducted deep cleaning at the restaurants that have been linked to this incident, replacing ingredients in those restaurants, changing food preparation procedures, providing all necessary supply chain data to investigators, and surveying employees to be sure none have had any symptoms of illness (note: no Chipotle employees in any states have been ill related to this incident). Similar actions are immediately being taken in response to these newly reported cases.
- Chipotle is also taking significant steps to be sure all of its food is as safe as possible. Specifically, the company is expanding testing of key ingredients, examining all of its food-safety procedures to find any opportunity for improvement, and is working with two renowned food safety scientists to assess all of its food safety programs, from the farms that provide its food to its restaurants.
Steve Ells, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle said:
“We take this incident very seriously because the safety of our food and wellbeing of our customers is always our highest priority. We are committed to taking any and all necessary actions to make sure our food is as safe as possible, and we are working diligently with the health agencies. We offer our sincerest apologies to those who have been affected. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety of our food – from enhancing the safety and quality assurance program for all of our fresh produce suppliers, to examining all of our food safety procedures from farm to restaurant, and expanding testing programs for produce, meat and dairy items before they are sent to our restaurants.”
Just last week 43 locations in Washington and Oregon reopened after voluntarily closing out of an abundance of caution. Before reopening, each location replaced their food supply with all new food, sanitized each location and tested ingredients. Chipotle said, in a press release, no new cases in Washington or Oregon have occurred since then.
Symptoms, which include diarrhea and abdominal pain, usually begin two to eight days after a person has been exposed to the bacteria and resolve within a week. Some cases are severe and patients can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which is a type of kidney failure. There have been no cases of HUS or deaths from this outbreak.