Side of Guac and E. coli: not Chipotle’s first outbreak

Shane Beneke

Many consider Chipotle a staple in their diet, and Kent State students are no exception. However, an outbreak of E. coli early in November in Washington and Oregon has been linked back to the Mexi-American restaurant.

According to The Washington Post, health officials announced that at least 25 cases of E. coli in Washington may be tied to the restaurant. No deaths have been reported, but nine people have been hospitalized.

While the outbreak appears to be linked to food served at Chipotle restaurants, the food or other source of contamination hasn’t yet been determined and remains under investigation,” said the Washington Department of Health in a statement earlier in the month.

Despite only eight restaurants having potential links to the cases, the company has closed 43 restaurants in the Northwest.

The situation in Washington is not the company’s first outbreak of illness. Over the past summer, a salmonella outbreak linked to tomatoes at Minnesota Chipotle restaurants left 64 people sick. A similar incident even occurred at the Kent location years ago.

About 180 people, many of which being Kent State students, became sick with a gastrointestinal illness after eating at the Chipotle in Kent in 2008, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. A norovirus (sometimes known as a winter vomiting bug) was eventually found to be the cause of the outbreak.

While it seems that the majority of Kent State students are aware of the outbreak in Washington they will still remain loyal to Chipotle.

“I remember my friends mentioned that it (the Washington-Oregon outbreak) happened the other day and we all went to get Chipotle at the same time,” laughed Anna Smith, a sophomore marketing major.

Freshman fashion merchandising majors Sarah Knox and Elsie Kunz both shared a similar story.

“We just ate there two days ago,” they both said simultaneously.

The girls added that while food safety and foodbourne illnesses are a concern for them, they felt there was only so much they could do to protect themselves from getting sick.

Smith, on other hand, said she keeps food safety on her mind.

“I work in food service, and I was a hospitality management major at one time. I had to take a sanitation course, so I do try to be mindful where I eat,” Smith adds.

Despite that, Smith seems unable to part with the restaurant’s burritos and bowls.

“There’s no logical reason for me to trust Chipotle, I just kind of do,” she laughs.

Shane Beneke is the health reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]