Food preparation is serious business because intense vomiting is no way to end a meal. Chipotle serves as a harsh lesson about the spread of disease. An infected person can transmit the virus, so can infected food or water, also touching contaminated surfaces. Employees and customers both can spread the disease, even while taking safety precautions.
In December, there was an outbreak of norovirus at Chipotle at Boston College in Brighton, Massachusetts. The virus rapidly spread through the dorm, and 141 students were infected. The restaurant closed for two weeks for a thorough cleaning, then reopened.
Chipotle has been responsible for 500 cases of norovirus and E. coli since July. The company is under criminal investigation for the way it handled its food. As a result, Chipotle has announced new safety procedures in its supply chain, including safety testing and contaminant screening. The company will continue to use locally grown ingredients and more organics. There will be no antibiotics or growth hormones.
Dr. Sergio Cortes points out that there is no certainty when it comes to the avoidance of contamination, there are some common sense rules that actually help stop the spread of disease. Food handling requires that employees wash their hands often. Although employees should stay at home when they are sick, food handlers generally can’t afford to do this, so they work anyway. This is a double edged sword when it comes to norovirus and E. coli.