Finally, after months of grappling with a massive E. coli outbreak, Chipotle received an all-clear from federal health officials on Monday. In an update on its website, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) officially declared an end to the devastating outbreak, which sickened 55 people in 11 states -- 21 of whom were hospitalized -- since late last year. A second, smaller E. coli outbreak linked to the chain, was also declared over.
While the development is almost certainly great news for the embattled burrito chain, CDC investigators said they were unable to pinpoint the ingredient used in the affected restaurants that made so many people sick, meaning it will likely remain a mystery.
"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 CDC said. "The investigation did not identify a specific food or ingredient linked to illness." When the CDC declares an outbreak over, it means they've officially closed their investigation, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal ahead of the CDC's update.
All of this comes amid Chipotle's big push to lure customers back (with free food!) into the folds of its warm tortillas, and just days before the company will close all of its restaurants for a few hours on February 8th for new food safety meetings and training. Chipotle's stock, which has collapsed like a foil-less burrito in recent weeks, was already trading up almost 4% on Monday morning thanks to the news. However, Chipotle isn't exactly out of the woods, considering a recent criminal investigation into a norovirus outbreak at a California Chipotle restaurant, as well as facing pending civil lawsuits.
Hopefully, this means we won't have to hear about E. coli for a while now. Thrillist reached out to Chipotle for comment.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and has had enough E. coli for a long time. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.