The Latest: Chipotle now says 8 restaurants tied to outbreak
SEATTLE (AP) — The latest in an E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants in Washington state and Oregon (all times local):
Chipotle now says eight restaurants, not six, have been tied to the E. coli outbreak in Washington state and Oregon.
The company voluntarily closed 43 restaurants in the Northwest after health officials alerted the Mexican food chain to the outbreak. So far, 37 people have tested positive for the strain of E. coli connected with the outbreak.
Chipotle Mexican Grill Chairman Steve Ellis says the company is doing its own tests at its restaurants and distribution centers, in addition to those done by health officials.
Ellis says they’re sanitizing the restaurants, replacing food and testing batches of ingredients in the company’s supply chain.
Scientists say they identified the specific microorganism responsible, which they believe was carried on fresh produce such as lettuce or tomatoes.
Health officials say 37 people have E. coli in Washington state and Oregon amid an outbreak tied to Chipotle restaurants in the Northwest, an increase from 22 cases reported earlier.
Washington health officials are still testing samples from people who have fallen ill in Clark, Cowlitz, Island, King and Skagit counties to see if they all have the same form of the potentially deadly illness.
Officials say most of those sickened by E. coli have eaten at the Mexican food chain.
Nine people in Washington and three in Oregon have been hospitalized, but no one has died. People with E. coli connected with the outbreak have ranged in age from 5 to 60.
Health officials say Oregon has 12 cases of E. coli amid an outbreak tied to Chipotle restaurants in the Northwest, an increase from the three cases reported earlier.
Dr. Katrina Hedberg, Oregon state epidemiologist, says three people were hospitalized in Oregon, but all have been treated and released. She says eight of the 12 patients have been interviewed and had eaten at the chain. The majority of the illnesses were in the Portland area.
Oregon is working closely with Washington state to identify the cause of the outbreak, which also has sickened at least 19 people in Washington.
Food from six Chipotle stores connected with the outbreak is being tested. The chain of casual Mexican restaurants has closed 43 restaurants in the two states.
Washington state health officials have identified the specific microorganism responsible for the E. coli outbreak tied to Chipotle restaurants in the Pacific Northwest.
Dr. Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist, says knowing the type of E. coli that’s sickened nearly two dozen people will help officials determine the exact source of the illness.
Food from six Chipotle stores connected with the outbreak is being tested. Lindquist says officials may know by Wednesday what type of food tests positive for the same microorganism. They’ve asked Chipotle to turn over information about its food suppliers so officials can determine where the product came from.
On Tuesday, officials in Washington and Oregon plan to update the number of people who have fallen ill. Lindquist says none of the 22 people with E. coli have experienced dangerous complications so far.