Chipotle announced Sunday that it was closing 43 of its restaurants in Washington and Oregon amid an E. coli outbreak that appears to be linked to the fast casual restaurant chain. The company and health officials are currently investigating the reported outbreak.
Chipotle closes 43 restaurants amid E. coli outbreak https://t.co/gCtD6TSAM1 https://t.co/XUyRJ4HRU3— ABC News (@ABC News)1446470205.0
"After being notified by health department officials in the Seattle and Portland areas that they were investigating approximately 20 cases of E. coli, including people who ate at six of our restaurants in those areas, we immediately closed all of our restaurants in the area out of an abundance of caution," Chipotle told Reuters.
Eight people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported from the outbreak, according to the Associated Press. "The company has not made plans to close any other restaurants in other states as there is no evidence of a link to other restaurants," said company spokesperson Chris Arnold.
The number of cases within Oregon and Washington could increase, though. "After people started hearing about the outbreak, more people will probably go to the doctor and join the list of potential cases," Marisa D'Angeli, medical epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health, told the Associated Press.
This is the third such incidence of food contamination at Chipotle restaurants since August.
Minnesota health officials in September said tomatoes used in 22 of Chipotle's restaurants infected dozens of patrons the month before with salmonella, including some who were hospitalized, largely in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The company has since switched tomato suppliers.
Public health officials in Simi Valley, California, in August confirmed that the contagious norovirus was the reason about 80 customers reported feeling ill after eating at a local Chipotle restaurant.
Earlier this year, Chipotle pulled pork or "carnitas" from many of its menus, due to an issue with one of their supplier’s animal welfare practices. Many criticized the company for it so-called "pork problem," but Coach Mark Smallwood at Rodale Institute argued Chipotle didn't have a "pork problem"—just high ethical standards. He applauded them "for not compromising their principles, and for pushing production to be more humane."
Chipotle is known for its high standards for fresh, healthy and humanely sourced food. Their "food with integrity" principles mean they strive to use organic and local as much as possible. They serve more local produce than any restaurant in the U.S., according to their website, and they aim to serve only pasture-raised meat from animals raised without non-therapeutic antibiotics and synthetic hormones.
Typical fast food has creepy additives, like Tbhq. Tbh, fresh food doesn't need it. 👻-rito is tomorrow: https://t.co/1HmW7QfVfH— Chipotle (@Chipotle)1446242410.0
And in April, Chipotle became the first fast food chain to attempt to eliminate genetically modified organisms (GMO) from its food. Critics have been quick to point out that Chipotle is not completely GMO-free, however. While its meat and dairy products come from animals that are not genetically modified, they are still being given GMO-feed. And its beverages also contain genetically modified ingredients, including those containing corn syrup made from GMO corn.
But its "super fresh cred" also makes the company vulnerable to food contamination in a globalized and industrialized food system. "There is a growing trend among restaurants, as with Chipotle, to use more fresh, unprocessed food," says Reuters. "While that may be good for nutrition, experts say it raises the risk of foodborne illness because cooking kills pathogens that cause illness."
Reuters claims foodborne contamination at restaurants happens "infrequently." But the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) estimates of foodborne illness in the U.S. would probably alarm most. "Each year roughly one in six Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases," says the CDC.
And a separate recall from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday of more than 167,000 pounds of ground beef shows that food contamination continues to plague the U.S. food system. The contaminated meat, which tested positive for E. coli, is from All American Meats in Omaha, Nebraska. "There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products," according to the USDA.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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