The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) have identified tomatoes as the source of the Salmonella Newport outbreak that has sickened dozens of people who ate at Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota since late August. Investigators are working with state and federal partners to trace the tomatoes back to the farm of origin.
Since the outbreak was reported in early September, additional illnesses have been confirmed by MDH. A total of 64 cases and 22 locations now have been linked to the outbreak. Nine people have been hospitalized. The cases range in age from 10 to 69 years and are from 13 metro counties and several greater Minnesota counties.
“We expected to see additional cases because it can take up to 10 days for symptoms of Salmonella to appear, another few days to a week before people go to their doctors and the cases get reported to us,” said MDH Epidemiologist Dana Eikmeier.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants. The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.
Ventura County Public Health has reported that 98 customers and 17 employees were sickened on August 18 and 19. After customers reported the illnesses to Chipotle, the restaurant notified health department officials and closed on Friday afternoon to clean and bring in new food before reopening on Saturday for lunch. An inspection of the Chipotle location posted Monday referenced violations for:
- The premises and/or floors, walls, or ceiling are in an unsanitary condition.
- Equipment or utensils are not clean, fully operative and in good repair.
- Flying insects were observed within the food facility.
- Food handlers employed at this facility do not possess a valid food handler card and/or records documenting that food employees possess a valid food handler card are not maintained by the food facility for review as required.
- Equipment is connected directly to the sewer.
- Wall and/or ceiling surfaces are deteriorated and/or damaged.
- The restroom is unclean and in disrepair.
Norovirus is a member of the family Caliciviridae. The family of Caliciviridae consists of several distinct groups of viruses that were first named after the places where the outbreaks occurred.
Humans are the only host of norovirus, and norovirus has several mechanisms that allow it to spread quickly and easily. Norovirus infects humans through person-to-person transmission or through contamination of food or water. In addition, Norovirus is able to survive a wide range of temperatures and has evolved to avoid the immune system, which results in outbreaks.
Norovirus illness usually develops 24 to 48 hours after ingestion of contaminated food or water. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, headache and low-grade fever. And although symptoms usually last only one to two days in healthy individuals, Norovirus can become quite serious in children, the elderly, and immune-compromised individuals.
There is no specific treatment available for Norovirus. In most healthy people, the illness is self-limiting and resolves in a few days; however, outbreaks among infants, children, elderly, and immune-compromised populations may result in severe complications among those infected. And death may result without prompt measures.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to carrot juice and chili.