CDC ending Chipotle E. coli probe without identifying outbreak’s source

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly going to declare today that the E. coli outbreak tied to Chipotle locations in nine states is no longer a threat to the public. However, according to the Wall Street Journal (1/31, Newman, Jargon, Subscription Publication, 6.74M), the CDC is not ready to identify the particular cause of the outbreak. Analysts have said that determining the precise origin of the outbreak is necessary for Chipotle so that it can reassure its customers, as well as investors, that sufficient steps have been taken to prevent a repeat occurrence.

The Wall Street Journal (1/31, Newman, Jargon, Subscription Publication, 6.74M) says the CDC’s pending announcement signals that it has ended its investigation and considers the E. coli outbreak, which has not been tied to any new cases in the last two months, contained. However, Chipotle still faces a federal investigation regarding its handling of a norovirus outbreak in Simi Valley, CA last summer. Another norovirus outbreak caused 140 Chipotle customers in Boston to become ill in December.

In a post for Food Poison Journal, prominent food safety attorney Bill Marler writes: “State and local public health officials continue to interview ill people to obtain information about foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before their illness started. To date, 46 (88%) of 52 people interviewed reported eating at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant. The investigation is still ongoing to identify common meal items or ingredients causing illness.”

Late last year, Chipotle “was hit by a lawsuit…for failing to disclose information about concerns around food safety.” The civil lawsuit “was filed…on behalf of investors who acquired shares from February 2015 to January 2016.”

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