Chipotle is set to reopen its restaurants this week after the E. coli outbreak got nearly 45 people infected. As we early reported, Chipotle had voluntarily decided to close some of their Pacific Northwest restaurants, after it was found that eleven of those stores were connected directly with the outbreak.
“We have also retained two of the nation’s best food-safety scientists to work with us to assess practices and find additional areas for improvement,” Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said, according to Fox News. “We are leaving no stone unturned in terms of finding ways to improve upon our practices.”
However, health officials and doctors in the U.S. say that these type of situations happen more often than we think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 48 million cases of foodborne disease take place in the U.S. every year. This means that about 100,000 people end up in the hospital, resulting in 2,000 deaths. In other words, 1 in every 7 people in the U.S. get sick from food each year.
Dr. Paul Cieslak, medical director for communicable diseases at Oregon’s state health agency, stated that this could happen even when people eat at home, although those restaurant-related foodborne diseases are pretty common, according to Fox News.
Cieslak was part of the investigation in the recent E. coli outbreak that happen, among other places, in Oregon. He explains that these outbreaks can happen anywhere.
Washing your hands before cooking or eating, avoiding undercooked hamburger or raw shellfish, and staying away from unpasteurized milk or juice could prevent you from getting sick by food.
Nevertheless, Dr. Cieslak explains that it is not possible to avoid all the bacteria present on food. He explains the example of E. coli: if lettuce or berries are contaminated, it could get very difficult to wash them good enough to get to the hidden bacteria.
This happens every day
According to Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Seattle and King County Public Health, most of these foodborne disease cases go unnoticed, as they mostly don’t represent any threat to public health. More than 1,000 of these cases occur in Seattle, but only a few of them are labeled as food-related outbreaks and are announced to the public.
He explained that this is the reason behind some of these cases, like one that occurred in July where 5 five people got sick in a Chipotle store in Seattle, are no reported. This “outbreak” ended as soon as the health department made the investigation, so they didn’t find any reason to make it public.
Public pressure on public matters
Although Government regulations on restaurants and farms prevent most people from getting sick, experts say there is more that U.S. Government could do to eradicate these outbreaks, such as better testing on farms and warehouses.
Moreover, responsible farmers, restaurants, and grocery store owners are needed to solve this issue, as the public pressure should help to get these changes done.
On the other hand, lawyers believe that lawsuits will force the companies to respond to their practices and behaviors and that it will contribute to improve the food industry quality and safety.
Source: Fox News