Chipotle has voluntarily closed 43 of its Washington and Oregon locations as health officials investigate an outbreak of E. coli food poisoning linked to the restaurant chain. At least 22 people — 19 in Washington and three in Portland, Oregon — have been sickened as a result of the bacteria, the Seattle Times reports. Of those, eight people have been hospitalized. Health officials are continuing to investigate the source of the E. coli. CNN confirms no one has died as a result of the outbreak.
"We offer our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by this situation."
In a statement, Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold tells Eater, "We immediately closed all of our restaurants in the area out of an abundance of caution, even though the vast majority of these restaurants have no reported problems." He adds: "We are working with health department officials to determine the cause of this issue. We offer our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by this situation."
Despite its rising reputation as a healthy fast-casual option, 2015 hasn't been a great year for Chipotle from a Department of Health standpoint. In August, more than 60 customers were sickened after eating at a California Chipotle restaurant. Health officials later identified the cause of the poisoning as norovirus, a highly contagious food-borne illness spread through food, water, and contact with the infected. Then, in September, a salmonella outbreak related to tomatoes was linked to 17 Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota sickening at least 45 people.