The Latest: 45 people sickened in Northwest E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle

SEATTLE – The latest in an E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants in Washington state and Oregon (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

State health officials say a total of 45 people have been sickened with E. coli in the Pacific Northwest outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants.

Thirty people have been diagnosed with the illness connected with five restaurants in Washington state. Ten of them were hospitalized.

Fifteen people have contracted E. coli in Oregon, with four of them hospitalized. State health officials have updated their data to show the outbreak affected people who ate at six different restaurants in the Portland, Oregon, area.

3 p.m.

Foodborne illnesses like the E. coli outbreak linked to Northwest Chipotle restaurants are more common than the public realizes. And most instances never make the news.

There are about 48 million cases of food borne disease every year in the United States, sending about 105,000 people to the hospital and resulting in 2,000 deaths. That information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates about 1 in 7 people in the U.S. are getting sick from food every year.

Many of these illnesses involve people eating at home, but health experts say even restaurant-related outbreaks are fairly common.

There are some things people can do to avoid foodborne illnesses: Wash your hands before making or eating food, avoid undercooked hamburger or raw shellfish, be careful about cross-contamination of raw meat, wash produce thoroughly, and don’t drink unpasteurized milk or juice.


7:55 a.m.

Chipotle says it’s reopening the 43 restaurants it closed in the Pacific Northwest amid an E. coli outbreak that has sickened about 40 people.

Health officials say they haven’t determined a cause of the outbreak that started last month. Tests of food at the Mexican food chain have come back negative for E. coli, and officials have concluded there’s no ongoing risk.

Chipotle said Tuesday that it’s reopening the restaurants over the next few days after giving them a deep cleaning and ordering a fresh supply of ingredients.

The company says it tested the food prior to restocking and is instituting additional safety procedures in all of its 2,000 restaurants to ensure robust food safety standards.

The outbreak was traced to 11 Chipotle restaurants in Oregon and Washington, but the company closed 43 in the region as a precaution.