Chipotle reopens 43 restaurants after E.coli scare

Chipotle said Tuesday that it is reopening the 43 Pacific Northwest restaurants after tests at the Mexican food chain came back negative for E. coli, officials say.

Elaine Thompson/AP/File
A pedestrian walks past a Chipotle restaurant in Seattle.

Chipotle said Tuesday that it is reopening the 43 Pacific Northwest restaurants it closed amid an E. coli outbreak after tests at the Mexican food chain came back negative for the bacteria, according to officials.

Health officials have not found a cause of the outbreak that started last month but concluded there is no ongoing risk of contracting the illness they say has sickened about 40 people.

Chipotle will reopen the restaurants in Washington state and Oregon in the coming days after giving them a deep cleaning and ordering a fresh supply of ingredients, the company said. It also said it is testing the new food prior to restocking and is instituting additional safety procedures and audits in all of its 2,000 restaurants to ensure robust food safety standards.

Chipotle Chairman Steve Ells apologized to those affected by the outbreak.

"The safety of our customers and integrity of our food supply has always been our highest priority," he said in a statement. "If there are any opportunities for us to do better in any facet of our sourcing or food handling — from the farms to our restaurants — we will find them."

The outbreak was traced to 11 Chipotle restaurants in Oregon and Washington, but the company closed 43 locations in its Seattle and Portland markets as a precaution. It said it conducted additional sanitization measures in its restaurants nationwide.

Dr. Scott Lindquist, Washington's state epidemiologist, had said he expected the restaurants to reopen by Wednesday or Thursday.

The most recent person authorities say was sickened by E. coli reported eating at Chipotle on Oct. 24.

Foodborne illnesses are not easy to track to the source of the outbreak, said Jonathan Modie, a spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority.

"Finding the source of the outbreak is often like finding a needle in the haystack," Modie said Monday.

Though health officials have not found the cause, it does not mean they are not blaming Chipotle, said Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who has filed two related lawsuits on behalf affected customers.

Marler said Chipotle has issues with food safety. The company has been named in three high-profile cases in the past few months, and he's tracking another case at a Chipotle in Seattle from this summer.

The chain faced a salmonella outbreak linked to tomatoes that  authorities say sickened dozens of people in Minnesota beginning in August. In California, health workers said norovirus sickened nearly 100 customers and employees at a Chipotle restaurant in Simi Valley in mid-August.

"Clearly this is a Chipotle problem," Marler said.

Company spokesman Chris Arnold disputed that.

"I don't think this is evidence of a systemic problem, but having even one incident like this is too many and suggests that we could do a better job in this area," Arnold said.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Chipotle reopens 43 restaurants after E.coli scare
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today