The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to search for the specific source of E. coli at Chipotle restaurants that has sickened 45 people in six states, including two cases in Turlock.
Neither of the two people who became ill after eating at the Chipotle restaurant in Turlock were from Stanislaus County, according to the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency.
One individual who became sick after eating at the Turlock Chipotle was a 6-year-old child who ate there with relatives while traveling through the area. The visit was on Oct. 22 and the family contacted officials to inform them of the child’s illness. The child ate a burrito that had barbacoa meat with rice, black and pinto beans, cheese, fresh tomato pico de gallo, tomatillo sauce and sour cream.
Following the health complaint, the Stanislaus County Department of Environmental Resources conducted an inspection at the Turlock Chipotle at 3090 Countryside Drive. The inspection found that all food storage areas and sanitization stations were in compliance, as were the temperatures for the refrigerator and heat storage areas.
The inspector walked through the process for the cooking of the barbacoa meat and found no issues. According to the inspection document, the barbacoa meat comes pre-cooked from corporate in a sealed package and can be delivered up to twice a week. It is stored in the walk-in refrigerator which has a temperature of 38°F. It is then brought out when it is needed and re-heated on the stove to 165°F. The staff has calibrated thermometers that they use to make sure that the temperature is brought up to 165 °F before it is transferred over to the hot holding line.
The store manager told the inspector no employees had reported any illnesses. The restaurant has remained open.
The CDC is still trying to ascertain what specific food is linked to the evidence, but what they do know suggests it is coming from a “common meal item or ingredient served at Chipotle.” The CDC said 96 percent of the sickened individuals reported eating at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in the week before their illness started.
Of the 45 people sickened by the illness, 16 of them have been hospitalized. There have been no deaths reported from the outbreak. In addition to the two individuals sickened in the outbreak from the Turlock location, there have been two cases confirmed in Minnesota, one case each in New York and Ohio, 13 cases in Oregon, and 26 in Washington, where it is believed to have started.
The individuals sickened in the outbreak range in age from 2 years to 94 years, with a median age of 22, according to the CDC. The illnesses began appearing around Oct. 19 and have continued up to Nov. 8.
Cases of E. coli are typically associated with consumption of undercooked beef, cross contamination of one food product with another or consuming foods which have not undergone further cooking, such as lettuce, tomatoes or other raw food items. Symptoms usually begin three to four days after the exposure, but may be as short as one day or as long as 10 days. The symptoms often begin slowly with mild belly pain or non-bloody diarrhea that worsens over several days. Most people recover within five to seven days, however; children, pregnant women, and people with other underlying illnesses should seek immediate treatment if they suspect infection. Severe cases of E. coli infection may lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a severe type of kidney failure.