In a fresh blow for Chipotle Mexican Grill, which was recently in the news for the E. coli outbreak that spread across its outlets located in nine states, more reports of people calling in sick after dining at Chipotle have surfaced.
As many as 80 students have reportedly fallen sick after eating at a Chipotle restaurant located near their college in Boston. According to ABC News, reports of the fresh outbreak started trickling in on Tuesday noon. All of the affected students said they dined at a single Chipotle restaurant located on 1924 Beacon St. over the weekend, an official from Boston College confirmed.
Meanwhile, the incident is being currently investigated by officials from the Boston and Massachusetts Health Department. Officials will also investigate if the latest incident was caused by the E. coli bacteria or if some other pathogen is to blame.
According to the Washington Post, Chipotle has temporarily closed the affected restaurant following the outbreak.
The same report also adds that it is likely that the latest incident could be a norovirus infection, which is generally considered to be less serious when compared to an E. coli infection. All the affected students have been provided treatment, and as of now, no one has been hospitalized. They have also been tested for both E. coli and norovirus. However, it would take two days for the test results to be made available. A spokeswoman from the Boston Public Health Department has also revealed that it is unlikely that the latest incident was caused by the infamous E. coli bacteria. Officials from Chipotle also believe the infection does not seem to have been caused by E. coli.
In a statement to ABC News, Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold said, "We agree with health officials that it is likely a norovirus, which seems very consistent with the pattern here. It is important to note that noroviruses are very common, in part because they are so easily transmitted (they can spread through person-to-person contact, on surface areas, or through food or drink). According to the CDC, there are approximately 20 million cases a year, making them the leading cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S."
Since the investigation regarding this outbreak is currently underway, officials from the Massachusetts Public Health Department and the Boston Public Health Department did not speculate on the cause.
In case the test results do reveal that there was no E. coli outbreak, it would be reassuring in some manner for Chipotle, which has been trying to reassure its consumers over the course of the past few weeks. Until now, over 42 people from nine states have confirmed to officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that have eaten from a Chipotle outlet before they fell sick. The initial reports of E. coli infections started trickling in on October 13 and continued until November 7. The infection also led to Chipotle temporarily closing as many as 43 restaurants spread across Washington and Oregon states. The company also said they were changing their procedures and implemented stricter safety measures. Employees at Chipotle would also undergo fresh training. New measures are also being taken to ensure the quality of the ingredients that the restaurant uses.
Chris Arnold of Chipotle, however, added that several of its suppliers may not be able to immediately implement the new safety measures.
"Given the heightened requirements for produce — chiefly the high resolution testing — we believe that some of our local growers will not meet these enhanced standards. We'll certainly look to work with suppliers that do, and to help others where we can, but at the moment, we aren't sure what the local program will look like. What we are sure of is that our commitment to using the very best ingredients we can remains as strong as ever."
Will you dine at Chipotle after hearing about this latest outbreak?
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