The first batch of food samples tested for E. coli by the Food and Drug Administration came back negative Friday.
Investigators at an FDA lab near Seattle are testing tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro and other kinds of uncooked food from Chipotle restaurants in the Northwest for the bacteria, but so far they haven't found anything.
Washington state epidemiologist for communicable diseases Dr. Scott Lindquist said his team expects to complete their testing sometime Monday. Those results could help determine when and how Chipotle may start to reopen some restaurants around the region.
Public health officials say five Chipotle restaurants in Washington state – including one in Clark County – may be linked to the outbreak of bacteria. They’re also testing food from five Chipotle’s in the Portland metro area.
The company said in a statement it closed more than 40 locations "out of an abundance of caution, even though the vast majority of these restaurants have no reported problems."
New figures released Friday show 41 people had been sickened. Of those, 14 people were hospitalized. The number of cases has fluctuated as new cases are discovered and others dismissed.
Even though they don’t know how long it may take, health officials say they’d like to find what caused the outbreak before Chipotle reopens its restaurants around the region.