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Based on an updated case definition, King County’s current count of individuals tied to the E. coli outbreak has been reduced to four. No new cases have been identified in King County since Chipotle reopened their stores in Washington state.
We continue to pay close attention to ensure Chipotle is doing everything they can to protect the public. It’s routine practice for us to conduct detailed inspections on a facility soon after an outbreak investigation.
At a few locations, we have identified items during our inspections that didn’t rise to the level of closing the facilities, but that did require immediate correction. As standard practice, we’ll re-inspect them again within 14 days.
The latest inspection results for the 17 King County Chipotle locations are available on our online food establishment inspection search engine: http://info.kingcounty.gov/health/ehs/foodsafety/inspections/search.aspx (Type in Chipotle for the business name and hit the search button).
The Washington State Department of Health has been working closely with local health departments, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Oregon Health Authority, and Chipotle on criteria for reopening of Chipotle restaurants. To meet that criteria, the produce must be replaced in the closed restaurants with food supplies that have tested negative for E. coli bacteria. All locations must also complete a deep cleaning procedure and implement additional food safety procedures.
Today, food inspectors from Public Health – Seattle & King County are inspecting each Chipotle location in King County to confirm that each facility has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, thrown out all of the produce, and uses the additional food safety measures. Other health departments in Washington and Oregon are inspecting the Chipotle restaurants in their jurisdictions.
The FDA is in the process of testing dozens of food samples from Chipotle restaurants, and so far, all have tested negative for E. coli bacteria. As an extra precaution, Chipotle has sent hundreds of food samples for testing. Chipotle is instituting a new process requiring that their ingredients test free of contamination before they will be supplied to stores.
Once local food inspectors determine that stores are in compliance with the cleaning and safety procedures, Chipotle locations may be restocked with food and can reopen for business.
The investigation into an outbreak of E. coli illnesses that may be related to Chipotle restaurants in King County has grown from four reported cases to six as of today, including a teenager and a person older than 65. Five of the six reported eating at Chipotle. In total, the six King County cases include three teens, two people in their 20s, and one person over 65. None of the six people is currently hospitalized. Public Health is continuing to investigate the cause of the outbreak, including interviewing people who have illnesses that are consistent with E. coli infection.
Original post 10/31/15:
Health officials are currently investigating a multi-state outbreak of E. coli that may be linked to Chipotle restaurants.
Four cases were reported in King County. While the outbreak is currently under investigation, preliminary information is that four people in King County have become ill, two teenagers and two people in their 20s. One of the teens and one of the people in his/her 20s were hospitalized. In King County, all four ill people ate at a Chipotle between October 19 and 23.
While the outbreak appears to be linked to food served at Chipotle restaurants, the food or other source of contamination hasn’t yet been determined and remains under investigation. Chipotle restaurants in Washington have voluntarily closed until further information on the cause of the outbreak is available.
The type of E. coli implicated in this outbreak has not been confirmed but is a strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli similar to E. coli O157:H7. It can cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting. It can sometimes result in severe, life-threatening illness and death. In general, anyone with bloody diarrhea should see a healthcare provider.