Update: Chipotle Ordered to Pay $25 Million Settlement for Tainted Food
Chipotle Mexican Grill has agreed to pay a record $25 million fine to resolve criminal charges that it served contaminated food that sickened more than 1,100 people in the U.S. from 2015 to 2018, according to ABC News . The company was charged in Los Angeles federal court with 2 counts of violating the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by serving tainted food which caused 4 separate outbreaks of norovirus. Chipotle admitted that poor safety practices, including not keeping food at proper temperatures to prevent the growth of bacteria, sickened customers in California, Massachusetts, Virginia and Ohio.
What’s the Problem?
At least 52 people have been diagnosed with the E. coli 026 outbreak strain, 43 of whom reported eating at Chipotle, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) . Twenty people have been hospitalized as a result of their illness, and no deaths have been reported.
This marks the 3rd food poisoning outbreak this year for Chipotle, whose tagline is “Food with Integrity.” And while the company markets itself as offering fresher, healthier foods than its competitors, more processed products typically have fewer harmful pathogens.
The source of the contamination has yet to be identified; however, some investigators suspect produce or another perishable item as the likely culprit. High heat kills E. coli, and it is unlikely that all of the affected Chipotle restaurants undercooked their meat products.
The outbreak was first reported in Seattle, WA. and Portland, OR; Chipotle closed all 43 of its restaurants  in those cities on Oct. 31. They were re-opened last week after replacing food and deep-cleaning the facilities.
The most recent illnesses were reported in Turlock, CA; Akron, OH; Amherst, NY; and Burnsville, MN. However, due to the timing of the visits -- late October through November 6 -- Chipotle did not feel it necessary to close those locations.
Minnesota Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Chipotle Tomatoes
In addition to the E. coli food poisoning cases  associated with Chipotle, a separate outbreak of Salmonella Newport  has been linked to tomatoes served at 22 Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota. The outbreak sickened at least 64 people, 9 of whom required hospitalization to treat their symptoms, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) .
Cause of Ohio Chipotle Food Poisoning Outbreak Identified
Chipotle said tests confirmed bacterial contamination was the cause of a recent outbreak of food poisoning illness at a Chipotle restaurant in Ohio that sickened hundreds, according to CNBC . The bacteria identified was Clostridium perfringens, a type of bacteria that accumulates when food is left out at unsafe temperatures, tests from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed. Health staff identified at least 647 people who said they experienced gastrointestinal symptoms after eating at the Chipotle on Sawmill Parkway between July 26 and July 30.
600+ Food Poisoning Illnesses Linked to Ohio Chipotle
At least 624 people who ate at a Chipotle restaurant outside Columbus, Ohio, have reported developing symptoms of food poisoning, according to the Washington Post . Local health officials said they had identified the source of the illnesses as the Chipotle in Powell, OH., and that all 624 victims self-reported gastrointestinal symptoms between July 26 and July 30.
First Death Reported in a nationwide E. coli Outbreak linked to Romaine Lettuce
The death was reported in California, but state and federal health officials did not immediately provide any other details, according to NBC News . Three more states have been affected by the outbreak, bringing the total to 25, where at least 121 people have reported getting sick. At least 52 people have been hospitalized, including 14 with kidney failure, which is an unusually high number of hospitalizations.
Related Article: Dole Romaine Lettuce Lawsuit
Chipotle Poisoning Saga Continues, As New Infections Reported in LA
Los Angeles health officials are investigating a new round of food poisoning cases linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill. The new cases were reported at the restaurant at 4550 W. Pico Blvd. in LA, according to the Washington Post.
Food Poisoning Lawsuits Filed over Chipotle Norovirus Scare in Virginia
Two men from Loudoun County, Virginia, are suing Chipotle for damages they allegedly incurred as a result of eating at the location in Sterling, VA, that was linked to more than 130 reports of illnesses last month. Plaintiffs Kyle Hogan and Patrick Moore are seeking in excess of $74,000 in damages plus attorneys' fees, in addition to any other relief the court deems fit.
Second Norovirus Case Linked to Chipotle in Virginia
Health officials have confirmed that a second person tested positive for norovirus after eating at a Chipotle in Sterling, Virginia, that was temporarily closed last week following at least 135 reports of illnesses. David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department, who confirmed the second case, stated previously that another diagnosis would be a strong indicator that norovirus was behind most if not all of the illnesses associated with the outbreak.
Chipotle Restaurant in Virginia Suspected as Source of New Norovirus Outbreak
More than 130 people fell ill after eating at a Chipotle in Sterling, Virginia, the restaurant suspected to be at the center of a recent norovirus outbreak. Chipotle confirmed that it had received a “small number” of food poisoning complaints from customers who ate at the restaurant, and closed the location for 2 days to conduct “a complete sanitazation.”
Chipotle Reaches Settlement With 100 Food Poisoning Victims
Chipotle has settled with more than 100 customers who were sickened in multiple E. coli and norovirus outbreaks last year. The chain’s strategy of resolving claims out of court shows it wants to avoid lengthy public battles over food poisoning cases that have severely damaged the company’s stock price and reputation, according to Fortune . Terms of the settlement were not immediately made public.
Food Poisoning Strikes Again at Chipotle in New York
Reports surfaced yesterday via Twitter of at least 2 separate food poisoning incidents linked to a Chipotle restaurant in Manhattan, according to EATER . Business Insider  reported that word of the illnesses sent the company's stock falling by as much as 3.5%.
Chipotle Shareholders Sue Company, Alleging Recklessness and Insider Trading
Chipotle stockholders have filed a lawsuit against the restaurant chain alleging that company executives awarded themselves “hundreds of millions” of dollars just before stock prices tanked last year following multiple food poisoning outbreaks. The most serious allegation is that Chipotle’s co-CEO Marty Moran sold $107.7 million worth of company stock at an inflated price, based on inside information that the stock would soon fall. Additionally, the suit claims that Chipotle’s founder and other co-CEO Steve Ells sold shares worth $78.3 million during calendar year 2015.
Food Safety Crisis to Cost Chipotle 3 Years' Earnings, Analysts Say
Chipotle Mexican Grill will have lost 3 years of earnings between fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2017 as a result of multiple food poisoning outbreaks last year, according to a research note  issued last week by J.P. Morgan. Analysts said they expect the company’s earnings per share in fiscal year 2017 to be about what they were in fiscal year 2014, despite a sales bump from the addition of roughly 700 restaurants during the same time period.
Chipotle Suspends Exec Bonuses After Food Poisoning Outbreaks
Chipotle has cancelled executive bonuses for 2015 due to multiple foodborne illness outbreaks at its restaurants across the U.S., according to Forbes . Shareholders further restructured previously granted options awards so that they only pay off if management can repair the chain's declining value. The move was a seminal moment for Chipotle investors’ new found ability to have a ‘say on corporate pay.’
Feds to Investigate Chipotle After Norovirus Outbreak
Chipotle Mexican Grill is now the subject of a federal criminal investigation into a norovirus outbreak  that occurred at one of its restaurants in Simi Valley, CA., last fall, according to CNBC . Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes the stomach and / or intestines to become inflamed (acute gastroenteritis), which leads to symptoms including stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
Multi-State E. coli outbreak Linked to Chipotle...Again
The CDC is investigating yet another food poisoning outbreak associated with Chipotle that has sickened at least 5 people. Of these, one was from Kansas, one was from North Dakota and 3 were from Oklahoma. CDC said that the FDA had conducted an investigation in this outbreak to trace the ingredient which was associated with the illness, however, the agency could not identify a common source of ingredient which was contaminated.
Chipotle E. Coli Outbreak May Have Spread to Massachusetts
The nationwide E.coli outbreak linked to food served at Chipotle Mexican Grill may have spread to Massachusetts, where 28 people fell ill after eating at a single Boston-area restaurant, according to CBS News . News of the new infections spread when 8 Boston College basketball players missed a game Sunday due to food poisoning.
E. Coli Symptoms
People usually get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) 2-8 days after swallowing the organism, according to the CDC . Most people infected suffer from varying degrees of diarrhea (usually watery but sometimes bloody), abdominal cramps, and in rare cases hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Most people recover within a week, but, rarely, some develop a more severe infection.
Chipotle E. Coli Outbreak Spreads to 3 More States: CBS News Video
Leafy Greens Leading Cause of Food Poisoning, Study Finds
Leafy greens like lettuce and spinach are the most common culprit behind food poisoning outbreaks, according to a 2013 study  published by the CDC. Researchers found that about 1 in 5 illnesses were linked to leafy green vegetables -- more than any other type of food -- And that nearly half of all food poisonings cases were attributed to produce in general, when illnesses from other fruits and vegetables were combined.
Related article: Chipotle Poblano Peppers Lawsuit
Do I have a Chipotle Lawsuit?
The Food Poisoning Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Chipotle food poisoning lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new E. coli cases in all 50 states.
Again, if you developed symptoms of E. coli after eating at a Chipotle restaurant, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and our lawyers can help.