E. Coli Outbreak Forces Chipotle to Shut Seattle, Portland Stores

The popular Mexican food eatery said Sunday it had closed all of its establishments in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR after a reported outbreak of E. coli bacteria.

It has not been a stellar week for Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

The popular Mexican food eatery said Sunday it had closed all of its establishments in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR after a reported outbreak of E. coli bacteria.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, three cases of E. coli in Oregon and at least 19 in Washington had affected patients between 11 to 64 years of age.

“After being notified by health department officials in the Seattle, W and Portland, OR areas that they were investigating approximately 20 cases of E. coli, including people who ate at six of our restaurants in those areas, we immediately closed all of our restaurants in the area out of an abundance of caution,” Chipotle said in a statement.

Though one-third of affected customers have been hospitalized, no deaths have yet been reported.

However, health experts warn that more cases are imminent as there are likely several people who have caught the intestinal bug but have yet to seek medical care.

Marisa D’Angeli, medical epidemiologist at the Washington State Department of Health, encourages those who have eaten at Chipotle since mid-October and have been feeling sick with intestinal symptoms of (bloody) diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting, to immediately go see their doctors and get tested.

While this is the third outbreak of food contamination at Chipotle restaurants since August — earlier cases involved salmonella and norovirus – Bob Goldin, executive vice president at US restaurant consulting firm Technomic seemed fairly optimistic. “Short term they (Chipotle) will take a hit, but it will blow over quickly. They have a lot of customer goodwill.”