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Hundreds sickened at one Chipotle restaurant, and no one knows why

August 8, 2018

A Chipotle sign outside a restaurant in Tempe, Arizona, on Oct. 21, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Caitlin O'Hara.

Ohio health officials say more than 600 people were sickened after eating at a Chipotle outlet outside of Columbus over the last week of July.

The Delaware General Health District, named for the surrounding county, said that it had identified 624 people who ate at a Chipotle in Powell between July 26 and 30 and self-reported gastrointestinal symptoms.

At least two people, Filip Szyller and Clayton Jones, are suing the food chain after falling ill. In his complaint, Jones said that he purchased a burrito bowl at the store on July 27 and became sick the next day. He was treated by a primary care physician, the complaint says. Szyller purchased three tacos at Chipotle on July 29 and he too was sick by the next day, his complaint says.

Chipotle said that it voluntarily closed the store last week for 24 hours after the period the illnesses were reported, replacing all of its food and cleaning and sanitizing the restaurant.

“The health of our guests and employees is out top priority,” spokeswoman Laurie Schalow said in a statement. She declined to comment on the lawsuits.

There have been no incidences of illness reported at the eatery since its reopening, the Health District said in a statement.

Ron Simon, the lawyer who is representing both Szyller and Jones, said that his firm had been contacted by more than 100 people who had been sickened, including some who were hospitalized, and he expected to be filing more lawsuits soon.

“These lawsuits will force Chipotle to change its ways and make its food safer for everyone not just in Powell, Ohio, but across the United States,” he said in a statement.

Szyller and Jones are seeking damages of at least $25,000 each.

Sheila L. Hiddleson, the health commissioner from the county, said in an email that it was still awaiting lab results to determine the cause of the sicknesses.

Chipotle has had some high-profile issues with food safety before. A federal inquiry examined the Denver-based chain’s food safety practices in 2015 after 207 people became ill with norovirus after eating at an outpost in California.

In 2016, outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella and norovirus prompted it to close more than 2,000 locations for food safety training in February 2016.

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