Chipotle illness outbreak: source confirmed by health officials

Chipotle restaurant workers fill orders for customers

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A recent outbreak of illness at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in OH that affected hundreds of people was caused by a type of bacteria, local health officials said on Thursday. A total of 647 people reported gastrointestinal issues after eating at the restaurant between July 26 and July 30.

Chipotle will begin retraining all employees in safe food-handling procedures next week after a health department determined the pathogen that sickened almost 700 customers in OH arose from food left at unsafe temperatures, the fast-casual chain announced Thursday. The health district says no specific food has been identified as the source.

"Chipotle has a zero-tolerance policy for any violations of our stringent food safety standards and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure it does not happen again", Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol, who just took the helm in February, said in response to the findings.

He also said restaurants would be adding a "recurring employee knowledge assessment" to their daily food-safety routines.

The outbreak in OH is the latest of several in recent years that have hit the restaurant chain, sickening hundreds of customers.

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Though not as severe as Chipotle's food safety lapses in 2015 that sickened customers with E. coli and salmonella, the outbreak in OH is a headache for CEO Brian Niccol, who has been trying to fix Chipotle's reputation.

Customers had last month complained of food poisoning and diarrhea after eating tacos and burrito bowls at the Powell, Ohio Chipotle restaurant.

Chipotle shares are down 4 percent Thursday on the news. For example, beans were not held at a warm enough temperature, and lettuce was not properly cooled, Business Insider reported.

What's more, two nearby restaurants, according to inspectors, found boxes of raw chicken "leaning on other packaged foods".

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