Weeks after a serious outbreak of E. coli bacteria forced Chipotle to close 43 of its restaurants in Washington State and Oregon, the company has announced that those locations will reopen “in the coming days.”
On Tuesday, November 10, Chipotle said that it had replaced all of its ingredients across the 43 stores, and that health department officials had found “no ongoing risk” of further illness. When news of the outbreak was first reported, officials had confirmed 22 cases of illness linked to Chipotle, and eventually counted an additional 20 among those sickened by the bacteria.
Officials have not yet identified the exact source of the outbreak, but indicated that the bacteria most likely originated from fresh produce.
The company will be testing fresh produce, meat, and dairy before restocking its restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, and will be implementing new safety features across all of its restaurants nationwide, approximately 2,000 restaurants in total.
“The safety of our customers and integrity of our food supply has always been our highest priority,” Steve Ells, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, said in a statement. “If there are any opportunities for us to do better in any facet of our sourcing or food handling — from the farms to our restaurants — we will find them. We are sorry to those affected by this situation, and it is our greatest priority to ensure that we go above and beyond to make certain that we find any opportunity to do better in any area of food safety.”