Minnesota Health authorities have linked a statewide Salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 45 people to the Chipotle restaurant chain.
The Minnesota Department of Health said that all but two of the food-poisoning victims it interviewed reported eating at one of the 17 Chipotle restaurant locations in the state. Chipotle Mexican Grill is a Denver, Colorado-based chain with nearly 2,000 restaurants in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, and Germany.
The customers sickened ranged in age from 15 to 67 years old. At least five of the victims had to be hospitalized, state health officials said.
The strain of Salmonella responsible for sickening Chipotle customers is not the same strain that has been identified in an outbreak connected to Mexican-grown cucumbers, Minnesota health officials said. That outbreak has sickened more than 300 people in about 30 states.
People who become infected with Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. Other symptoms of infection include dehydration, fever, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
Most people can recover from a Salmonella infection without medical treatment, but the infection can turn deadly if it spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream and organs. Very young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are at high risk of developing serious complications and death from Salmonella poisoning.
“Since being contacted by the Minnesota Department of Health regarding a possible connection to this issue, we have offered our full cooperation to assist in their investigation, and replaced our entire supply of the suspect ingredient in Minnesota to ensure that it continues to be safe to eat in our restaurants,” said Chipotle communications director Chris Arnold.
“While this issue in Minnesota does not present an ongoing risk to consumers, we are committed to working with health department officials while they look to determine a cause,” said Arnold. Mr. Arnold did not say what the suspect ingredient is.
Last month, dozens of people were sickened by Norovirus after eating at a Chipotle restaurant in Simi Valley, Calif. Ventura County Public Health officials reported the outbreak sickened 98 customers and 17 employees, all of whom contracted the virus on August 18 and 19. State authorities inspected the premises and cited the restaurant for a number of health violations.
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