As more customers report illness after eating at certain Chipotle restaurants in Washington and Oregon, the company is facing more than just negative publicity. One Washington customer is suing the chain for over $75,000 after her burrito bowl allegedly caused her nausea and diarrhea. Her suffering was so severe, she sought treatment at an area hospital.
Restaurant chain Chipotle is facing more problems over a recent E. coli outbreak. This time, the problems are playing out in court as one sickened diner files suit. The writing is on the wall, it seems as customers tell Chipotle: one burrito, hold the E. coli.
Forty-three Chipotle locations in Washington and Oregon were recently shut down due to several customers becoming ill. While no direct causal link between the illnesses and Chipotle has been confirmed, health officials have reason to believe that the bacterial infections originated with the restaurants. To date, at least 37 diners have been affected between the two states.
One diner, a woman from Washington, filed suit against Chipotle alleging that her burrito bowl was contaminated with E. coli. Charmaine Mode claims she was stricken with nausea and diarrhea four days after her Chipotle meal. Her illness was severe enough that she sought treatment at an area hospital, missing work to do so.
Mode’s suit asks for over $75,000 in damages. Neither Mode nor her lawyer commented on the pending litigation.
Chipotle is also choosing to remain quiet after issuing a statement that it is currently working with health officials tracking down the source of infection. The company also stated that it is deep-cleaning the affected locations.
The statement, issued by Steve Ells, chairman and co-CEO continued:
“The safety of our customers and integrity of our food supply has always been our highest priority. If there are opportunities to do better, we will push ourselves to find them and enhance our already high standards for food safety. Our deepest sympathies go out to those who have been affected by this situation and it is our greatest priority to ensure the safety of all of the food we serve and maintain our customers’ confidence in eating at Chipotle.”
The restaurant chain is also conducting batch testing of ingredients, as well as environmental testing in distribution centers and restaurants. The Oregon Health Authority stated the sickened customer count at 12. There are at least 25 cases in Washington.
E. coli is sometimes a naturally occurring bacteria in the human digestive tract, but certain strains cause vomiting and bloody diarrhea.
Washington State Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist said, “Anyone who thinks they may have become ill from eating at a Chipotle restaurant in the past three weeks should consult their healthcare provider. The elderly and very young children are more likely to become severely ill from this kind of E. coli infection.”