chipotle_logo_originalThe case count in the investigation of an outbreak of E. coli O26 illnesses related to Chipotle restaurants in Washington and Oregon includes 30 Washington residents and 19 Oregon residents.

Five Chipotle restaurants in Washington are associated with this outbreak: Hazel Dell, 7715 NE 5th Avenue, Suite 109, in Vancouver; 1404 Broadway Avenue and 4229 University Way NE in Seattle; 512 Ramsey Way 101 in Kent; and 1753 S. Burlington Blvd. in Burlington.

In Oregon 19 sick have been reported from Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Columbia, Linn and Lane counties. Four people have been hospitalized and they range in age from 11 to 74. Associated Chipotle Restaurants: Cascade Station (9687 NE Cascades Pkwy), Washington Square (9120 SW Hall Blvd), Lake Oswego (8 Centerpointe Dr), Tanasbourne (2048 NW Stucki Ave), Sunnyside (Clackamas Town Center) and Gresham (2065 NE Burnside Rd).

I had a chance to talk today to both major newspapers in the Pacific Northwest about this outbreak and the Minnesota Salmonella outbreak, California Norovirus outbreak and a non-reported Seattle E. coli outbreak.

Seattle Times:

But is Chipotle’s response all that aggressive? Seattle attorney Bill Marler wonders.

“The things they instituted now are all so basic and all so standard, you have to ask yourself, why the heck didn’t they do all of this before,” Marler said Tuesday. Marler, one of the nation’s top food-safety trial lawyers, already has filed two federal lawsuits against Chipotle based on the latest outbreak. Among his 26 clients are two children who were hospitalized at Seattle Children’s hospital and a 70-year-old woman just released from an intensive-care unit in Portland, he said.

The latest rash of food poisonings represents the fourth outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants this year, Marler said. That includes outbreaks in Minnesota, California and a previous one in Seattle that sickened five customers of a Chipotle restaurant on Capitol Hill.

Local health officials “didn’t notify the public about that one; they just kept it quiet,” Marler said. “And that’s what drives me crazy. Maybe if they’d gone public, we could’ve avoided this outbreak.”

Still, it took another decade before the beef industry stopped fighting regulatory legislation that ultimately led to a steep decline of such outbreaks, said Marler, who built a national reputation on the Jack in the Box outbreak.

“Unfortunately, change is incremental in all human endeavors,” Marler said. “We only make dramatic changes when we’ve been hit in the head with a 2-by-4 once or twice. Hopefully for Chipotle, this is their 2-by-4 moment.”


Chipotle has had three known outbreaks this year, including the most recent one in Oregon and Washington. But there was also a fourth in Seattle that put two people in the hospital.

Health officials, who investigated the outbreak, did not inform the public.

“I find that completely, unequivocally wrong,” said Bill Marler, a food safety litigator in Seattle. “They have a responsibility to the public.”

Public health officials in Seattle said that by the time they figured out that Chipotle was responsible, the outbreak had ended.

“It took us a while to make the connection between the sick people and Chipotle,” James Apa, spokesman for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in an email. “By the time we were able to make an association with Chipotle, the outbreak was over.”

Only one restaurant was involved, the Chipotle location at 1415 Broadway, Marler said. One person sickened recently contacted him in wake of the latest outbreak.

Like the latest outbreak, it involved E. coli.

The outbreak happened in late July, Apa said.

Associated Press:

The July outbreak had ended by the time the health department investigated, and officials found no evidence of an ongoing problem that people needed to know about, said Duchin, who noted the two cases involved different E. coli strains.

A Seattle attorney who specializes in food-safety cases and whose daughter was a frequent customer of the Chipotle in the earlier case was upset when he heard about that outbreak.

“It just drives me nuts,” said Bill Marler, who built his national reputation with the 1993 E. coli outbreak at Seattle Jack in the Box restaurants. “This is the kind of thing that tears apart people’s belief that government can actually do stuff correctly and good.”

And, some local TV:

What food safety lawyer Bill Marler won’t eat

Chipotle assures public their food is safe as it gets ready to reopen; source of E. coli still unknown