CDC: Food left at unsafe temperature led to 647 sicknesses at Powell Chipotle

Local News

POWELL, OH (WCMH) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says tests confirmed clostridium perfringens caused hundreds of people to get sick after eating at a Powell area Chipotle last month.

The Delaware General Health District told NBC4’s Tom Sussi that five of six stool samples collected from people who got sick after eating at the Powell restaurant tested positive for the pathogen.

Clostridium perfringens grows in food not kept at the proper time and temperatures. Ohio Uniform Safety Code states hot foods be held at 135 degrees and above. Cold foods must be stored in 41 degrees or less.

“There are so many things that can happen when you’re preparing food, and time and temperature is the most important,” said Delaware County Health Commissioner Sheila Hiddleson. “We always tell people keep hot things and cold things cold.”

What hasn’t been identified is the specific food or foods that made hundreds of people sick. Food samples sent to the Ohio Department of Health lab all came back negative, said Hiddleson. The CDC is still testing additional samples.

Hiddleson said they worked around the clock to crack the county’s largest-ever food-bourne disease outbreak.

“Our staff did an amazing job,” she said. “We have about 80 on hand, and at one point or another in the last couple of weeks, we had 50 staff working on all of this.”

In a statement emailed to NBC4, Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol wrote: 

“Chipotle leadership will be retraining all restaurant employees nationwide beginning next week on food safety and wellness protocols.”

The company’s problems are far from over. Ron Simon is a Houston attorney who filed lawsuits on behalf of two sick Powell diners. Simon said his office has been contacted “by more than 100 others” who claim the restaurant made them sick. He expects to file more lawsuits against Chipotle.

In all, health officials identified 647 people who reported gastrointestinal symptoms after eating from the Chipotle on Sawmill Parkway between July 26 and July 30. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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