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Chipotle Food Contamination Outbreak Spreads to Boston - Testing for Both E. Coli and the Norovirus

The food contamination outbreak linked to the Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant chain has spread to at least ten states, including Massachusetts. On December 8, 2015, Boston College reported that more than 80 students, including members of the men's basketball team, have become sick after eating at Chipotle. As a result of the outbreak, Chipotle has temporarily closed the Cleveland Circle location in Boston.

Chipotle health officials believe the food-borne illness at the Boston location is likely caused by the norovirus, which they believe to be unrelated to the E. coli outbreaks from at least nine states in the past two months. Ill restaurant-goers from the Boston location are being tested for both E. coli and the norovirus.

As of last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that people in nine states have become ill after eating at Chipotle. Many individuals have required hospitalization. The previous outbreaks are believed to be caused by E. coli contamination.

Until testing results are completed, it is unknown whether this week's Boston outbreak is the result of E. coli, the norovirus, or some other food-based contamination. Symptoms from either E. coli or the norovirus may include diarrhea, abdominal pain, low-grade fever, vomiting, and may require hospitalization. In its annual report, Chipotle has noted that it may be at a higher risk for outbreaks of food-borne illnesses because of its use of "fresh produce and meats rather than frozen, and [its] reliance on employees cooking with traditional methods rather than automation."

More information on the Chipotle food contamination outbreak is available from U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website at the following link: http://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm470410.htm

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