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L.A. Chipotle employees taken ill, health officials investigating

Investigation of customer illness now includes affected employees and a neighboring PizzaRev

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is further investigating a Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. restaurant after the company reported that employees had been taken ill.

The department’s Acute Communicable Disease Control unit first began investigating the Chipotle at 4550 West Pico Blvd. on Monday, after several customer reports of illness appeared on iwaspoisoned.com.

“Public Health is currently investigating reports of illness from both employees and patrons at Chipotle,” the department said in a statement.

The department is also investigating a PizzaRev restaurant next door to the Chipotle, as some employees worked at both locations and there were reports of illnesses at the fast-casual pizza restaurant.

Both restaurants are currently open for business.

“We are aware of some employees who had been ill, and those employees have been held out of work, as is our policy if employees are sick,” Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said in an email. “We proactively reported those illnesses to local health officials (also a policy) who inspected that restaurant on Monday and were pleased with our operations.”

There is not yet a specific food item or condition identified as a cause of infection and there are fewer than 20 customers and 20 employees affected, the health department said.

While published reports of a health investigation Wednesday drove Chipotle’s stock down nearly 5 percent, investors seemed to shrug off the latest news. The fast-casual burrito chain’s shares were slightly higher in afternoon trading.

Denver, Colo.-based Chipotle has struggled in recent years with foodborne illnesses, most notably an E. coli outbreak in several states in 2015.

In November, shareholders tried to resurrect a class-action lawsuit, alleging the company and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hid earlier outbreaks.

Chipotle operates more than 2,350 restaurants. Los Angeles-based PizzaRev has about 50 restaurants.

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