Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., which closed 43 restaurants over the weekend after an E. coli outbreak, has hired food-safety consulting firms and is batch-testing ingredients in an effort to defuse the health scare.
After shutting restaurants in Seattle and Portland, Oregon, Chipotle is doing a deep cleaning of the locations, the company said in a statement Tuesday. Three people in the Portland area and 19 in Washington state became ill after eating at the Chipotle restaurants since Oct. 14, the Oregon Health Authority said on Oct. 31. There have been no deaths, but a third of those affected were hospitalized, the agency said.
Health officials haven’t yet found a cause of the outbreak, Denver-based Chipotle said on Tuesday. The company said it continues to work with authorities. Only eight of the shuttered restaurants have drawn concern, but it closed the others “out of an abundance of caution,” Chipotle said.
“We work with a number of very fresh ingredients in order to serve our customers the highest-quality, best-tasting food we can,” co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Ells said in the statement. “If there are opportunities to do better, we will push ourselves to find them and enhance our already high standards for food safety. Our deepest sympathies go out to those who have been affected by this situation and it is our greatest priority to ensure the safety of all of the food we serve and maintain our customers’ confidence in eating at Chipotle.”
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