Chipotle E. Coli Outbreak Expands into Pennsylvania

00759More and more people continue to get sick from the E. Coli outbreak that has affected Chipotle restaurants in several states, most recently including several people in Pennsylvania. The most recent illness began last November and has now affected California, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

Even though the outbreak started in Oregon and Washington and later spread to the east coast, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still have not been able to determine which specific product at Chipotle is responsible for the sickness. Chipotle has responded by tightening its food safety standards and focusing on testing its produce before it arrives at associated restaurants.

Severe Side Effects

With (Shiga toxin-producing) E. Coli outbreaks, people are usually sick for two to eight days after being exposed to the bacteria, typically experiencing diarrhea and severe cramping. If the diarrhea becomes bloody, this can also lead to severe dehydration. The bacteria originate in the intestines of animals and can cause serious food poisoning.

These outbreaks can also sometimes cause fatal infections via kidney failure (hemolytic uremic syndrome), and eventually lead to death. In these instances, the foodborne illness can cause victims and their families a lot in medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering; even sometimes leading to wrongful death. Outbreaks often manifest in those with weaker immune systems, such as children or senior citizens. Thousands of people are hospitalized each year due to E. coli infections, and some of them die.

Linked to Negligence?

While Chipotle has claimed that the bacteria came from its produce suppliers, the company has also implemented new employee training for food safety and handling because E. coli outbreaks can also be linked to negligence during food preparation. While the bacteria can be present in an animal’s fecal matter and end up on produce, it can also be found in meat and can cause sickness in people if it is not cooked properly.

Several lawsuits have already been filed against Chipotle regarding the most recent outbreak as the illness has spread across nine states with over 50 reports of illness. Although, most recently, the chain hired IEH Laboratories in Seattle to help improve its overall food handling procedures, this did not limit the outbreak to the Pacific Northwest.

Pennsylvania Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorneys

If you or a loved one have been injured as the result of contaminated food due to negligence, it is essential that you hired an experienced attorney as soon as possible in order to ensure that the proper investigation is done and your rights are protected. We can help. Contact Solnick & Levin today for a free consultation.


(photo courtesy of Max Straeten)