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All Chipotle restaurants in Washington state are closed as health officials investigate an outbreak of E. coli food poisoning linked to sites in Washington and Oregon.
At least 22 people have been sickened with the E. coli bacteria, including 19 in Washington and three in the Portland area, health officials reported October 31. Eight have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.
In Washington, 17 of the 19 who have been sickened ate at a Chipotle restaurant, leading state health officials to believe the Mexican food chain may be the source of the infections. But Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County, said officials do not yet know what specific food item was contaminated. Duchin said most of the recent E. coli outbreaks have been associated with produce.
The culprit of this outbreak appears to be Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria, according to Dr. Scott Lindquist, Washington state’s epidemiologist for infectious disease.
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. spokesman Chris Arnold said the company was notified by health officials that they were investigating E. coli cases that included people who became sick after eating at six restaurants.
“We immediately closed all of our restaurants in the area out of an abundance of caution, even though the vast majority of these restaurants have no reported problems,” Arnold said in a statement.
By Saturday morning, the company had voluntarily closed 43 Chipotle sites in the two states, but did not respond to requests for specific locations or a count of how many of those locations are in Washington.
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