Cause of illnesses related to Ohio Chipotle still unknown Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Cause of illnesses related to Ohio Chipotle still unknown

Health department tests are negative as number of reported illnesses hits 644

Two weeks after hundreds of people in Ohio reported falling ill after eating at a Chipotle location there, the cause of the illnesses remains unknown, health officials said Friday.

The number of consumers reporting getting sick after eating at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in central Ohio has grown to 644, but food served at Chipotle has not been linked to any foodborne illness, said Traci Whittaker, a spokeswoman for the Delaware General Health District.

All tests conducted by The Ohio Department of Health have come up negative for B. cereus, C. perfringens, Staphylococcal enterotoxin, Salmonella, Shigella and Shiga-like toxin-producing E.coli, the agency said.

Those tests were conducted on samples taken from leftovers “from the patrons that reported being ill,” Whittaker said. Stool sample results from those who self-reported their illnesses are still pending. 

When reached for comment on the matter, a Chipotle spokesperson said there was “nothing new to report.”

Those who reported becoming ill said they ate at the Sawmill Parkway Chipotle in Powell, Ohio, between Thursday, July 26, and Monday, July 30.

In late July, Ohio health officials launched an investigation of Chipotle after multiple cases of illnesses were reported from customers who ate at the Powell location. Chipotle closed the restaurant July 30. It reopened the next day.

Whittaker said her agency was not able to get food samples directly from the store because they had been discarded before the store reopened.

Chipotle has been trying to rebuild its reputation in recent years after multiple food safety incidents occurred at its restaurants. The cases, most clustered in 2015, sent Chipotle’s stock and sales into a tailspin. Three years later, the company is still in recovery mode under new CEO Brian Niccol.

Update: Aug. 13, 2018 This story has been updated to include comment from Chipotle.

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @FastFoodMaven

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