Update: After over two weeks of interviews and testing, the Delaware County Health Department has finally identified the source of the 647 illnesses caused by food served at a Chipotle location in Powell, Ohio. In an announcement published today, the Ohio-based health department reports that samples tested by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention came back positive for Clostridium perfringens.
According to the CDC, Clostridium perfringens is one of the most common types of foodborne illnesses in the United States. It often occurs when food is left at a warm temperature for an extended period before serving. The specific food that caused this outbreak still has yet to be identified. Symptoms of Clostridium perfringens include diarrhea and abdominal cramps that usually last less than 24 hours.
Brian Niccol, Chipotle's CEO, released a statement today about the chain's next steps. "While this incident impacted only one restaurant, Chipotle Field Leadership will be retraining all restaurant employees nationwide beginning next week on food safety and wellness protocols. To ensure consistent food safety execution, we will be adding to our daily food safety routines a recurring employee knowledge assessment of our rigorous food safety standards," Niccol stated. The CDC will also continue testing to find out more about the outbreak.
This story was originally published on August 8, 2018.
It has been a little over a year since Chipotle made headlines for being linked to the outbreak of a foodborne illness. Yesterday, it was reported that over 600 people got sick sick after eating at a Chipotle in Powell, Ohio. Not only is this now one of the biggest outbreaks the fast-casual chain has ever seen, matters are made worse by the fact that the cause of the illnesses is still unknown.
In a recent email to Refinery29, a Chipotle representative explained that the health department has said 624 people self-reported symptoms after eating at the Powell, Ohio location on Sawmill Parkway. According to Business Insider, symptoms included diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Even after interviewing over 500 of the sick customers, the health department is still unable to identify the cause of the illnesses. Testing has ruled out Salmonella, Shigella, E.coli, and Norovirus. The investigation is on-going.
In 2015, following an E.coli outbreak that caused over 50 people to become ill and led to the temporary closure of restaurant locations in nine states, Chipotle altered several of its restaurant practices in hopes of cutting down risk. This time around, the chain is also taking action. "We have continued to cooperate with health officials since we reopened the Powell, OH, restaurant last Tuesday after voluntarily closing it for 24 hours to implement our food safety response protocols that included total replacement of all food inventory and a complete cleaning and sanitation of the restaurant. The health of our guests and employees is our top priority," Chipotle said in an official statement following the outbreak.
Though the source of the illnesses is still unknown, so far, it seems that the safety response protocol has worked. No new illnesses have been reported since the Powell location was reopened last week.