The Mexican fast food restaurant has reportedly been the cause of 53 cases of E. coli in the last few months

By Andrea Park
Updated December 22, 2015 03:35 PM
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Chipotle Mexican Grill is suspected of being at the center of yet another E. coli outbreak.

Five cases of E. coli surfaced in Kansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma between Nov. 18 and Nov. 26. All five people reported eating at one of two Chipotle restaurants in Kansas and Oklahoma within a week of falling ill, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control told ABC News.

According to CNN, a CDC official suggested that these new cases may include a different strain of E. coli than that of the previous outbreaks linked to Chipotle earlier this year.

“These recent cases occurred several weeks after the last cases in the larger outbreak and in a different geographic location. This may suggest they do not share a common source, but the investigation is ongoing,” Dr. Ian Williams, chief of the CDC’s Outbreak Response & Prevention Branch, said.

Williams also spoke to the New York Times about the difficulty of investigating the recent outbreaks, saying, “One of the challenges here has been that we have been able to identify the restaurants where people ate, but because of the way Chipotle does its record-keeping, we have been unable to figure out what food is in common across all those restaurants.”

In a statement sent to CNN, Chipotle communications director Chris Arnold wrote, “We have indicated before that we expected that we may see additional cases stemming from this, and CDC is now reporting some additional cases. Since this issue began, we have completed a comprehensive reassessment of our food safety programs with an eye to finding best practices for each of the ingredients we use. We are now in the process of implementing those programs.”

Chipotle first underwent investigation in October for an E. coli outbreak that initially surfaced in Washington and Oregon before spreading across the country. As of last week, 53 people have reported a related illness and 20 of those have been hospitalized, ABC News reports. No deaths have been linked to the outbreak.