E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle in northeast Ohio

A pedestrian walks past a closed Chipotle restaurant Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, in Seattle. An E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants in Washington state and Oregon has sickened nearly two dozen people in the third outbreak of foodborne illness at the popular chain this year. Cases of the bacterial illness were traced to six of the fast-casual Mexican food restaurants, but the company voluntarily closed down 43 of its locations in the two states as a precaution. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A pedestrian walks past a closed Chipotle restaurant Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, in Seattle. An E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants in Washington state and Oregon has sickened nearly two dozen people in the third outbreak of foodborne illness at the popular chain this year. Cases of the bacterial illness were traced to six of the fast-casual Mexican food restaurants, but the company voluntarily closed down 43 of its locations in the two states as a precaution. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

AKRON, Ohio (WKBN) – An outbreak of E. coli linked to Chipotle that originated in the Pacific Northwest has spread and has now infected people in six states, including Ohio.

According to an update on Chipotle’s website, at least three restaurants in the northeast Ohio area have been linked to the outbreak. Those include:

  • Lyndhurst – Legacy Village  (24369 Cedar Road)
  • Parma  (7683 West Ridgewood Drive)
  • Akron Area Restaurants

New cases have also been reported in California and New York. The first cases were discovered last month were in Oregon and Washington.

Investigators have yet to determine the specific ingredient linked to the illness, the Associated Press reports.

Chipotle says the source of the problem appeared to have been contained during a period in late October. Forty-two of the 43 cases linked to Chipotle were from people who reported visiting one of the restaurants between October 13 and 30. One person reported having eaten at the restaurant chain on November 6.

In all, 17 restaurants throughout the U.S. have been identified.

Chipotle Mexican Grill closed 43 restaurants in Oregon and Washington in late October after health officials discovered most of the people sickened in the outbreak had eaten at its restaurants. The restaurants have since reopened.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said via email that the company does not believe closing the restaurants is necessary, the Associated Press says.

According to the company’s website, several measures were taken to contain the problem. The website reads:

“Since this issue began, Chipotle conducted deep cleaning at the restaurants that have been linked to this incident, replaced ingredients in those restaurants, changed food preparation procedures, provided all necessary supply chain data to investigators, and surveyed employees to be sure none had E. coli (note: no Chipotle employees in any states have had E. Coli stemming from this incident). Similar actions are immediately being taken in response to these newly reported cases.

Chipotle is also taking significant steps to be sure all of its food is as safe as possible. Specifically, we are expanding testing of key ingredients, examining all of our food-safety procedures to find any opportunity for improvement, and are working with two renowned food safety scientists to assess all of its food safety programs, from the farms that provide our food to our restaurants.”

Chipotle, which has more than 1,900 locations, touts the freshness of its ingredients.  Earlier this year, the company suspended a pork supplier that violated its animal welfare standards, leading to a shortage of carnitas at its restaurants.

Of 45 sickened, only one has been in Ohio, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Sixteen people have been hospitalized, but there have been no deaths, the agency said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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