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Norovirus Linked to Nearly 100 Cases of Food Poisoning at Chipotle

Seven employees tested positive for the virus.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Health officials believe that the food-borne illness that sickened nearly 100 customers at a California Chipotle is Norovirus. A number of diners that ate at an outpost in Simi Valley ended up in the ER last month with extreme cases of food poisoning. The restaurant sent home 17 sick employees and then shut down for a day citing a "staffing shortage." The restaurant also used the time to clean and restock with fresh, unaffected food and it eventually passed a health inspection just a few days later. Now, according to the Associated Press, the Health Department says that seven employees of the Chipotle location have tested positive for the virus.

Authorities note that the workers will remain "off duty" until they are cleared by additional testing. Ever since the restaurant was cleaned, no new cases have been reported. Norovirus is a highly contagious food-borne illness that is spread through "contact with infected people" or contaminated food or water. It can cause severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

It has been a rough few weeks for Chipotle. Late last month, the company was slapped with a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that Chipotle has been using GMOs — or genetically modified organisms — in its food "despite advertising that it is GMO-Free." It is seeking monetary compensation on behalf of any customer in California that dined at the chain after April 27. A Chipotle spokesperson says that the lawsuit is "meritless" and "filled with inaccuracies."