Chipotle Faces More E.Coli Cases, Stock Plunges

CDC Says E.Coli Cases Have Now Been Reported From Six States

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Chipotle Credit: Chipotle

An E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill has spread to a total of six states, including California and New York, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shares of Chipotle fell more than 9% following the CDC's announcement Friday.

The CDC said evidence suggests that an ingredient or "common meal item" served by Chipotle in several states was the source of the outbreak. A total of 45 people were infected, including two in California, two in Minnesota, one in New York and one in Ohio, the CDC said.

The expanded outbreak is the latest public relations issue for Chipotle, which promotes itself with the tagline "Food With Integrity."

"We will leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety of our food – from enhancing the safety and quality assurance program for all of our fresh produce suppliers, to examining all of our food safety procedures from farm to restaurant, and expanding testing programs for produce, meat and dairy items before they are sent to our restaurants," Chairman and Co-CEO Steve Ells said in a statement provided by Chipotle.

The investigation had previously focused on Oregon and Washington State, where dozens of people got sick after eating at Chipotle restaurants. The company shuttered locations in those areas for more than a week as authorities investigated the E. coli outbreak.

Chipotle said the CDC informed it of six new cases in which initial tests match the strain of E. coli involved in the Washington and Oregon incident. One of those six individuals does not have a known link to Chipotle. But five people did report eating at Chipotle, including two in Turlock, Calif., one in Akron, Ohio, one in Amherst, N.Y., and one in Burnsville, Minn. The company said in 42 of 43 cases linked to Chipotle, people reported visiting one of the restaurants in question between Oct. 13 and Oct. 30, and one person reported having eaten Nov. 6.

Chipotle said no new cases have been reported in Washington or Oregon since the company worked on the issue there in recent weeks and that no Chipotle employees in any states have been ill related to this incident. As of 3 p.m. Eastern on Friday, the company had not updated a section of its website devoted to the earlier E.Coli issues with the latest details from the CDC.

-- Bloomberg News and Ad Age reporting

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