Tuesday, February 2, 2016

CDC Issues Final Report on Chipotle E. coli Outbreak

The CDC issued the final report indicating that there have been no further E. coli O26 illness associated with the outbreak.  Overall, 60 people were infected in 14 states with 22 requiring hospitalization.

 Chipotle has taken a beating, with it stock price dropping 33% over the past year.  It went up 4.8% on Monday.  Chipotle stated that it will close for a few hours (11AM to 3PM) on February 8th in order to do a company wide staff meeting where executives will answer questions.  This does not appear to be a food safety training event as much as it is an opportunity to let employees executives are engaged on food safety.
CDC Outbreaks
Multistate Outbreaks of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O26 Infections Linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurants (Final Update)
Posted February 1, 2016 12:00 PM ET
At A Glance
Initial, Larger Outbreak
Second, Smaller Outbreak
2-1-2016 - Primary Outbreak: Persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O26, by state 
  • Read the Advice to Food Industries & Consumers »(http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2015/o26-11-15/advice-consumers.html)
  • These two outbreaks appear to be over. The most recent illness reported to CDC started on December 1, 2015.
  • CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, and public health officials in several states investigated two separate outbreaks of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O26 (STEC O26) infections.
  • In the initial, larger outbreak, 55 people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O26 were reported from 11 states. Twenty-one ill people were hospitalized.
  • In the second, smaller outbreak, 5 people infected with a different strain of STEC O26 were reported from 3 states. One ill person was hospitalized.
  • There were no reports of hemolytic uremic syndrome and no deaths in either outbreak.
  • Investigators used whole genome sequencing (WGS), an advanced laboratory technique(http://www.cdc.gov/amd/), to get more detailed information about the DNA fingerprints of the STEC O26 bacteria that caused illness.
  • Isolates tested from ill people in the second, smaller outbreak were not related genetically to isolates from ill people in the initial, larger outbreak.
  • 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. 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(http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/outbreaks/investigating-outbreaks/investigations/hypotheses.html) to identity the specific ingredient that is contaminated.
  • Testing of multiple food items collected from Chipotle restaurant locations did not identify STEC O26.
  • A review of Chipotle's distribution records by state and federal regulatory officials was unable to identify a single food item or ingredient that could explain either outbreak.
  • Food industries are an important partner in making food safer for everyone. They can help stop outbreaks and lessen their impact by keeping detailed records(http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/foodsafety-2015/index.html) to allow faster tracing of individual shipments of foods from source to destination and to help investigators identify what made people sick.
  • Take action(http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/foodsafety-2015/index.html) if you think you have a foodborne illness, such as talking to your healthcare provider, writing down what you ate in the week before you got sick, and answering questions about your illness when public health investigators contact you.
Market Watch
CDC says E. coli outbreaks at Chipotle are over
 By Tonya Garcia

Published: Feb 1, 2016 12:30 p.m. ET

The Centers for Disease Control said the two E.coli outbreaks at Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. CMG, -0.87% "appear to be over" in a release published Monday. The first, larger outbreak, which included 55 cases in 11 states, began in October with initial illnesses reported in Washington and Oregon. A second, smaller outbreak began with illnesses reported in November. Five people were infected in three states. The evidence collected during the investigation suggest a common item was the source of the outbreaks, though a specific food wasn't identified. The data indicates that those who had fallen ill had eaten in Chipotle in the week before their sickness started. Since the outbreaks were reported, Chipotle has put new food safety measures in place. Chipotle shares are up 4.8% in Monday trading after falling 33.1% over the past year. The S&P 500 is down 3.4% for the past 12 months.

CNN Money
Chipotle to close all restaurants on Feb. 8 for food safety meeting
by Aaron Smith and Ahiza Garcia @CNNMoney January 15, 2016: 3:21 PM ET

Chipotle is shutting down all of its stores nationwide for a few hours next month to hold a national staff meeting about food safety.

The meeting will occur on February 8 and the company's more than 1,900 restaurants will take part.

Chipotle said the meeting would provide an opportunity to thank employees, discuss changes and answer questions. 

Chipotle (CMG) has suffered from several outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella and norovirus that infected customers and led to an unrelenting stream of criticism and mockery on social media.

Customers have posted photos of Chipotle meals and joked about getting infected with E. coli or norovirus.

Before the outbreaks, Chipotle had cultivated a loyal following with its adoption of non-GMO standards and other health conscious initiatives.

And investors loved the stock. At the height of its popularity, Chipotle's stock was at a high of about $750. It has since plummeted to as low as $428 a share -- a 42% drop.

Raw Ingredients: The unprocessed story of where your food comes from

The trouble began in August when 64 customers in Minnesota were infected with Salmonella and about 100 people were struck by norovirus in southern California.

These infections were followed by an E. coli outbreak in October and November that affected 53 people in nine states.

In December, Chipotle suffered from two more outbreaks. Roughly 140 students at Boston college were infected with norovirus and a second new incidence of E. coli broke out affecting five people in three states.

Why your food might not be as safe as you think

The trouble didn't end with the outbreaks however. Customers have sued Chipotle and the company was recently served with a subpoena by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations.

The company has also projected a drop in sales. Chipotle said it thinks the recent outbreaks will end up costing between $14 million and $16 million.

CEO Steve Ells said earlier this week that he was "hopeful" the Centers for Disease Control would soon declare that the outbreaks were over.

"We know that Chipotle is as safe as it's ever been before," Ells said on Jan. 13 at a conference in Orlando.

Related: Can Chipotle come back from E. coli outbreak?

He said Chipotle is planning to lure back customers with a new marketing campaign in February.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said there hasn't been an E. coli case in two months. Since then, the company says it's been serving a million customers a day "without incident."

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of Chipotle stores.

CNNMoney (New York) First published January 15, 2016: 8:56 AM ET

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