The nationally recognized food safety law firm of Pritzker Law has filed a lawsuit (0:15-cv-03668) against Chipotle Mexican Grill on behalf of a client who was sickened with a Salmonella infection after eating at the restaurant in Maplewood, Minnesota. She ate at the restaurant on August 28, 2015, and got sick on August 31, 2015.
At least 44 other people are sick with Salmonella infections in Minnesota that are linked to the restaurant. Thirty-four of the thirty-six people interviewed by public health officials stated that they ate at Chipotle restaurants the week before they got sick. Patients ate at the restaurants between August 16 and 26, 2015, and became ill between August 20 and 29, 2015.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, seventeen Chipotle restaurants may be included in this outbreak. They are at 7 Corners in Minneapolis, Bloomington, Calhoun, Crystal, Hopkins, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Minnetonka, Richfield, Ridgedale, Rochester, Shoreview, St. Cloud, St. Louis Park, St. Paul Lawson, Uptown, and US Bank Plaza in Minneapolis.
Testing conducted on the Salmonella Newport bacteria isolated from patients has found that the bacteria have matching or very similar DNA fingerprints. That means that their infections came from a common source. There is no word yet on whether or not any environmental sampling has found the outbreak strain of the bacteria at Chipotle restaurants.
The fact that so many of the ill persons ate at a Chipotle restaurant before getting sick is statistically significant and indicates that those venues are linked to the outbreak. Restaurants have a legal responsibility to serve wholesome and safe food to their customers.
The complaint states that Chipotle breached the duties owed to the patrons by failing to adequately maintain and monitor the safety of its products, failing to properly operate its restaurants in a safe, clean, and sanitary manner, failing to atop, implement, and follow adequate food safety policies and procedures, and failing to apply its food safety policies and procedures. Minnesota Food Law prohibits the manufacture, sale, or delivery, holding or offering for sale of any food that is adulterated or misbranded.
The symptoms of a Salmonella food poisoning infection include diarrhea that may be bloody, severe abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle aches, fever, and chills. Those symptoms usually begin six to seventy-two hours after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria.
Most people recover within four to seven days on their own, but some patients become so ill they must be hospitalized for medical attention. If the bacteria get into the bloodstream, an infection called sepsis can develop, which can be life-threatening. Five people have been hospitalized in this outbreak.
If you ate at a Chipotle restaurant in Minnesota, especially one of the seventeen indicated as being part of the outbreak, and have experienced these symptoms, please see your doctor as soon as possible. The long term complications of this type of illness can be serious, including arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and heart disease. A record of this illness should be on your chart in case any problems develop in the future. Attorney Ryan Osterholm said, “We cannot stress enough the importance of seeking competent medical care if you have any question whatsoever about your symptoms. Salmonella is a dangerous foodborne pathogen and symptoms do not always ‘just go away’.”
More cases may be reported. The news release from the Minnesota Department of Health states that the last cases were reported on September 2, 2015. It can take two to four weeks from the time an infection is diagnosed until it is reported to public health officials. We will keep you updated as more information is released.