Chipotle temporarily shut down 43 restaurants in Oregon and Washington state last month after the fast-casual chain’s third food contamination incident since August left about two dozen people sick. This had prompted an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. voluntarily shut down the restaurants, including all of its locations in Portland and Seattle, when reports linked at least 19 cases of Shiga toxin E.coli infection in Washington and three cases in Oregon to food purchased in eight of its stores between Oct. 14 and Oct. 31.
No one has died from the outbreak, but one-third of the affected Chipotle patrons, who range in age from 11 to 64 years old, have been hospitalized, according to the Oregon Health Authority, which is also investigating the chain. Chipotle says it is working with health department officials to determine the cause of this issue.
There has been litigation against Chipotle stemming from the earlier incidents, including a lawsuit filed in California federal court in September by two Plaintiffs describing their days-long bouts of nausea and diarrhea following lunch meals at the Simi Valley restaurant. E. coli bacteria infections are caused by ingesting tiny, often invisible, amounts of human or animal fecal matter. Most strains of E. coli are harmless and normally found in the intestines, but the type involved in the Chipotle outbreaks is one of the most common culprits behind foodborne illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In rare instances usually involving children younger than 5 or the elderly, E. coli infections can lead to severe kidney failure.
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