State investigates Chipotle near Denver for likely norovirus outbreak

State and local health authorities in Colorado are acknowledging they are investigating an apparent foodborne illness outbreak involving a Chipotle Mexican Grill near Denver.

Two agencies, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the local Tri-County Health Department, are involved, and CDPHE issued the following statement.

“CDPHE is partnering with the Tri-County Health Department on a suspected foodborne outbreak at the Chipotle located at 6710 S Cornerstar Way. The investigation is ongoing, and at this time, the cause of the illness has not been identified.

“Symptoms appear to be consistent with viral gastroenteritis, which is often caused by norovirus. So far, CDPHE has identified a total of 8 ill patrons and employees. Public health officials are working closely with the restaurant, which has implemented disease control measures.”

As many as five local high school tennis team members and six other people from the community blame the Chipotle location in Aurora, CO, next to Denver, for their illnesses.

Customer Kristi Ryan told a local television station that her family had three burritos, a burrito bowl, and a small soft taco, and within 36 hours, all were sick except for her husband, Jeff.

“Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, we all had a low-grade fever, body aches, it was awful,” she said. Grace, her eight-year-old, was admitted to urgent care for severe dehydration. Anti-nausea medicine, Zofran, was used to treat the other ill family members.

Ryan contacted both the local restaurant and Chipotle’s corporate headquarters in California. The restaurant promised to get back to her. Corporate Chipotle did not provide anyone to talk to her but directed her to their website.

She wants someone from the restaurant chain to take responsibility for the illnesses.

A spate of foodborne illnesses involving Chipotle in 2015 led to dramatic reductions in its stock values, a change-out of its corporate leadership, and its corporate headquarters move to Newport Beach, CA from Denver.

CMG has recovered since then with its stock price tripling since its 2015 troubles. However, recovery did require A $25 million criminal penalty stemming from its earlier outbreak problems.

Founded in 1993,  Chipotle is a fast-casual restaurant chain with 2,622  units in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and France.   It features tacos and Mission burritos that are made to order in front of the customer.   With its renewed financial strength, the company added 40 new locations in the first quarter of 2021.

And 26 of the new restaurants are “Chipotlane” outlets, so known for digital features..

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