The number of Powell, Ohio Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant patrons, affected after eating food at the restaurant grew and now is slightly over 700 victims according to the Delaware County General Health District. The outbreak signals that despite spending millions of dollars on food safety measures at its restaurants, there are likely remaining issues with the chain’s food handling practices.
A Possible Clue
Even as health department labs continue to look for conclusive answers about what caused gastrointestinal illnesses among its patrons, an inspection at the restaurant, according to the Business Insider, revealed a procedural error in food storage.
Delaware County General Health District inspectors found that at two of the three Chipotle restaurants in Powell, boxes of raw chicken were found in contact and “leaning” on other packaged foods. The inspectors noted that this was a contamination risk.
The State Code
Ohio food safety code expressly states that raw meat, even when packaged, should not be in contact with other types of food. It is part of the state law that raw meat, such as the chicken found at Chipotle, should be separate from any other raw or cooked ready-to-eat food.
When exposed to raw meat, other foods are at high risk of becoming contaminated with foodborne illness. If a restaurant sells food harboring an illness, the product is not only defective but very dangerous to consumers.
Consequences Of Food Poisoning
According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration is the major consequence of food poisoning and can be fatal in some cases. Populations that are at risk for especially adverse outcomes of food poisoning include:
· Pregnant women and their babies
· Young children
· Elderly people
· The immunocompromised
Of course, even those that recover without complications have still missed work, taken on extra medical expenses and endured the pain and suffering of this condition.
This current foodborne illness outbreak for the Chipotle chain has undoubtedly expanded after we posted our August first blog about defective food products. There are various media reports of pending lawsuits, and that number will likely grow as the hundreds of victims start to recover from their illnesses.