Bacteria culprit behind Chipotle illnesses

By Glenn Battishill - [email protected]

The Delaware General Health District reported Thursday that stool samples from individuals who became ill after eating at the Powell Chipotle tested positive for a bacteria known as Clostridium perfringens.

The health district reports that Clostridium perfringens develops when food is left at an unsafe temperature. The district reports that food samples tested negative for Clostridium perfringens, but the stool samples tested positive for the toxin that Clostridium perfringens forms in gastrointestinal tract.

The health district has not identified a specific food as the source of the illness, and food and stool testing will continue at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

“I am extremely proud of our team,” said Delaware County Health Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson. “This investigation included countless hours of phone calls and interviews, along with multiple inspections. We are also appreciative of our community for being very cooperative during this investigation and for understanding our work in protecting the public’s health.”

Hiddleson added she was thankful for the work of the Ohio Department of Health and the CDC.

In response to this outbreak, Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill, stated that “Chipotle Field Leadership will be retraining all restaurant employees nationwide beginning next week on food safety and wellness protocols.”

Health district staff identified 647 people who self-reported gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming food from the Chipotle on Sawmill Parkway between July 26 and July 30.

The health district reported on Aug. 1 that a food inspection team inspected the restaurant on July 31, and the team reportedly found no reason for the facility to not reopen. The health district reported that there have been no reported illnesses since the restaurant reopened on July 31.

Meanwhile, two lawsuits have been filed against Chipotle in Delaware County Common Pleas Court, alleging that the plaintiffs in the cases, Clayton Jones, of Powell, and Filip Szyller, of Delaware, became seriously ill after eating at Chipotle. The lawsuits are each seeking more than $25,000 in damages.

By Glenn Battishill

[email protected]

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.