This year, 198 people have been sickened in connection with eating Chipotle, either from E. coli or norovirus. As the illness and hospitalization toll rises, Chipotle’s stock continues to fall, as do burrito fans’ faith in the popular fast casual chain.Just a week after Chipotle announced new safety measures and issued an apology to media outlets across the nation, five more people have reportedly fallen ill from coming into contact with E. coli bacteria after eating Chipotle in Kansas, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.
CDC is investigating the new E. coli cases, but it is unknown at this time whether this current outbreak is linked to the original outbreak that sickened 53 people and caused the burrito chain to close more than 50 locations in Western United States. This time around, the E. coli illnesses were reportedly caused by a different strain. Dr. Ian Williams, chief of the CDC's Outbreak Response & Prevention Branch, believes that this fact, as well as the geographic distance and time difference, could point to a completely new, unrelated outbreak.
Ironically, Chipotle founder and co-CEO Steve Ells told CNBC last week, “I will say…that we can assure you today that there is no E. coli in Chipotle. We have thoroughly tested our food, we have thoroughly tested our surfaces and we are confident that Chipotle is a safe place to eat."
This statement seems a little ingenuous: Vox.com has discovered that, in a regulatory disclosure Chipotle filed in February of this year, the company admitted that its commitment to buying ingredients locally and from farmers markets "may make it more difficult to keep quality consistent, and present additional risk of food-borne illnesses given the greater number of suppliers involved in such a system…."