Health officials reported new cases of E. coli infections linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant have now reached six states throughout the United States. More than 40 people have fallen ill due to E. coli food poisoning, they reported.
The Chipotle-linked E. coli outbreak now spread to outlets in California, New York, Minnesota and Ohio, the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. The outbreak was first detected in Oregon and Washington.
The CDC stated that 45 people have now been infected by the E. coli O26 strain. Of the 45 people, 43 said they dined at Chipotle. No deaths have occurred, but 16 people were hospitalized due to the infection.
Investigators have yet to identify the source of the contamination, but they will trace back illnesses starting from Oct. 19 to Nov. 8. Cases that took place after Oct. 31 may not have been reported yet, the agency said.
Chipotle shut down its 43 restaurants in Washington and Oregon on Halloween, but re-opened them on Nov. 11. The re-opened outlets have undergone thorough cleaning, replaced all their produce, and adopted new sanitation protocols.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration tested food samples from the affected restaurants. Chipotle has also conducted voluntary testings on their own to test food coming to their branches. The restaurant also hired food safety consultants to help them.
"At the moment, we do not believe that it is necessary to close any restaurants," said Chris Arnold, spokesperson for Chipotle.
The new reports of illness were linked to Chipotle outlets with two cases in Burnsville, Minnesota; one in Akron, Ohio; two cases in Turlock, California; and one in Amherst, New York. In Washington, the outbreak was linked to outlets in Seattle with 26 cases. In Oregon, it was linked to outlets in Portland with 13 cases.
Seattle Attorney Bill Marler who represents the people that have been infected by the disease believes the spread of the outbreak will help officials determine the source of the contamination.
"What they're really focusing on right now is the supply chain. What's the common denominator? Who supplied what product to these stores?," added Marler.
Meanwhile, the CDC said they will advise the public as soon as measures are identified so that they can protect themselves.
Photo : Mike Mozart | Flickr