Following a massive E. coli scare this weekend that resulted in Chipotle closing at least 43 locations in Washington and Oregon, food safety experts are calling Chipotle’s integrity into question. The fast casual burrito chain has carefully curated a transparent brand that uses organic, GMO-free ingredients, and now Chipotle has to answer to the latest E. coli breakout, the third major food safety issue at Chipotle this year, which has thus far sickened at least two dozen people, according to the Associated Press.
“People shouldn’t have a false sense of security that local means safer,” Bill Marler, a food safety lawyer based in Oregon told Detroit News. ““Having three problems in a couple of months means that Chipotle is not paying attention to food safety like it should.”
Although only eight restaurants have sickened people, Chipotle made the decision to close the closest 43 restaurants to the epicenter of the outbreak. Marler said that they should be commended for that action. Officials are investigating the cause of the E. coli scare, but they believe that the foodborne illness is connected to a fresh food product supplier.
“The safety and wellbeing of our customers is always our highest priority,” Chris Arnold, a Chipotle spokesperson, told The Daily Meal. “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 eight 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.