Chipotle's E. coli investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended without a determination of the source of two outbreaks that have taken a huge bite out of the company's value.
The outbreak involved 60 people becoming sick in 14 states and cost Chipotle some $10 billion in market value, reported Bloomberg Business
"The epidemiologic evidence collected during this investigation suggested that a common meal item or ingredient served at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants was a likely source of both outbreaks," said the final CDC update
on the outbreak.
"The investigation did not identify a specific food or ingredient linked to illness. Most ill people in these outbreaks ate many of the same food items at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant. When a restaurant serves foods with several ingredients that are mixed or cooked together and then used in multiple menu items, it can be more difficult for epidemiologic studies to identity the specific ingredient that is contaminated," said the CDC.
The E. coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria normally live in the intestines of people and animals but can cause illness, either diarrhea or illness outside of the intestinal tract, according to the CDC. E. coli can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or people.
Chris Arnold, a Chipotle spokesman, told Bloomberg Business that the restaurant cooperated fully throughout the investigation and was happy the examination has been concluded.
"Over the past few months we have taken significant steps to improve the safety of all of the food we serve, and we are confident that the changes we have made mean that every item on our menu is delicious and safe," said Arnold.
Chipotle sales dropped nearly 15 percent in the fourth quarter. Its shares jumped 4.3 percent Monday to close at $472.64 after news of the CDC report broke, according to Bloomberg.
The Wall Street Journal
said the coast may not be clear for Chipotle, which is still dealing with a norovirus outbreak that made about 140 people sick in Boston in December. It is also facing a federal grand jury subpoena seeking information about an August norovirus outbreak in Simi Valley, California.
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