Oregon Officials: No Source Found For E. Coli

By Conrad Wilson (OPB)
Nov. 10, 2015 3:23 p.m.

Chipotle restaurants said in a statement Tuesday that it plans to reopen 43 closed stores in Oregon and Washington "in the coming days, with a fresh supply of new ingredients."


"Health officials have concluded that there is no ongoing risk from this incident," the statement said.

The company said it has received 900 test results, all of which showed no E. coli.


Oregon officials said Monday they've completed testing of Chipotle restaurants in the state and found no E. coli. But Washington public health officials said Tuesday they are continuing to test food samples. So far, they haven't found E. coli.

The agency partnered with a private lab and the Food and Drug Administration to test food samples, said Jonathan Modie, a spokesman with the Oregon Public Health Division.

Chipotle temporarily closed 43 restaurants in Oregon and Washington on October 30, after more than 40 people were sickened and more than a dozen hospitalized with a Shiga toxin-producing strain of E. coli.  Health officials said iut was linked to the restaurant chain. Several people have filed lawsuits against Chipotle.

"Our goal, ultimately, is to find the source," Modie said. "We want that smoking gun."

He said the company has agreed to ongoing testing of food served at its restaurants in Oregon, and to share those results with county public health officials.

"I don't know if we're ready to raise the mission accomplished banner yet," Modie said.

Dr. Scott Lindquist, Washington State's Medical Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases, said despite not knowing the source, they can still link the outbreak to Chipotle.
"There's a couple things that really tie it to Chipotle," he said. "The association of the folks that got ill that had eaten at Chipotle was very high, in excess of 90 percent of them. And the exact DNA fingerprint of this organism amongst those people was identical. So that is a very, very strong association."

In a release Monday, the Washington State Public Health Department said before reopening, each restaurant would need to bring in all new foods, and sanitize its premises. The agency said it would also require all fresh produce to be carefully cleaned and sanitized.