"Because it is not known if these infections are related to the larger, previously reported outbreak of STEC O26 infections, these illnesses are not being included in the case count for that outbreak," the CDC said in the update. "This investigation is ongoing."
However, in a statement to CNBC, a Chipotle spokesman suggested the latest illnesses are connected to the initial E. coli outbreak, saying, "We have indicated before that we expected that we may see additional cases stemming from this, and CDC is now reporting some additional cases. Since this issue began, we have completed a comprehensive reassessment of our food safety programs with an eye to finding best practices for each of the ingredients we use."
It's been a rough several weeks for Chipotle as new cases related to the initial E. coli outbreak continued to emerge as well as the recent Norovirus outbreak in Boston -- all of which have prompted the chain to apologize to customers and repeatedly pledge sweeping changes to its food safety procedures. Earlier this month, the company promised to become the "industry leader" in food safety, and said it continues to serve a million customers a day without incident.