As of last night, a number of Chipotle restaurants in Oregon and Washington States were closed. By this morning, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) was conceding it had launched an investigation into the possibility that at least six of these restaurants had been linked to a regional outbreak of E. coli that centered in and around the major cities of Seattle and Portland. The outbreak includes at least 19 Washingtonians and three Oregonians, this according to a public relations representative of the OHA, Jonathan Modie. The Oregonians were residents of Clackamas and Washington counties, and the victims from Washington were residents of Clark, Cowlitz, King, and Skagit counties. According to Modie, at least a half-dozen have been hospitalized, and the victims range in age from 11 to 64 years of age. Modie issues a release in which he stated that “many people affected with Shiga toxin E. coli may not seek health care, so the number of people made ill by this outbreak is likely more than identified,” adding, “health officials want people who have eaten at a Chipotle between October 14 and 23, and become ill with vomiting and bloody diarrhea, to see their health care provider and mention this outbreak.”
According to health department officials, Chipotle was not required to close stores at this time, but did so voluntarily once they were apprised of the situation. At individual stores, the closures were posted on signs that, for the most part, either did not provide a reason for the closure or pointed to some other factor. The corporate offices of the affected Chipotle stores, meanwhile, released its own statement:
“The safety and well being of our customers is always our highest priority. After being notified by health department officials in the Seattle and Portland, Ore. areas that they were investigating approximately 20 cases of E. coli, including people who ate at six of our restaurants in those areas, we immediately closed all of our restaurants in the area out of an abundance of caution, even though the vast majority of these restaurants have no reported problems. We are working with health department officials to determine the cause of this issue. We offer our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by this situation.”
Health officials warned the public to see a medical professional if anyone develops any signs of possible food poisoning, and that person happens to have eaten at a Chipotle in Oregon or Washington in the last 10 days. In addition to asking sick individuals to seek medical attention if he or she is possibly linked to the outbreak, health officials put local healthcare providers on notice of the outbreak, encouraging them to test instances of gastroenteritis in victim who also had eaten at a local Chipotle.
“Oddly enough,” says Ron Simon of Ron Simon & Associates, a national food poisoning law firm, “this is the third major outbreak linked to a Chipotle restaurant in recent months.” Simon noted this may very well be coincidental, but urged the management of Chipotle to take a serious look at their food preparation and storage practices. If you or a loved one is ill, the attorneys at Ron Simon & Associates encourage you to seek medical attention, get tested, and then call their offices to protect your important legal rights. Contact the Chipotle Claim Center at 1-888-335-4901.