DENVER: Four days after the first cases of customers in Washington State and Oregon contracting E. coli were linked to Chipotle, the Mexican fast-food chain set up a page on its website on Wednesday dedicated to updating the public.
The E. coli outbreak in the Pacific Northwest has affected at least 39 of its customers since mid-October, according to media reports. Chipotle has closed 43 restaurants in response.
"We’ll have updates as circumstances warrant, and will provide those either via press release and/or online at Chipotle.com/update," said Chris Arnold, the company’s communications director, via email.
The chain has also posted a button linking to the "Pacific Northwest restaurant closure update" portal on its own homepage.
The crisis-response site, which states that it was last updated on Thursday at 10:30 am MST, mostly consists of messages the company has communicated throughout this week, including an explanation of the crisis and seven actions it is taking to address the outbreak.
New information on the page includes an explanation from Chipotle about why it does not know the exact cause of the incident at this time. It said that although it is doing "everything possible" to identify the E. coli source, "determining the cause of these types of incidents is often extremely difficult."
The page warns that some food companies have never determined the cause of similar outbreaks. It also lists the 43 Chipotle locations that were immediately closed in the two states "out of an abundance of caution" when the chain first learned about the outbreak.
Chipotle reiterated that it is safe to eat at its restaurants and included information about the outbreak from the Oregon Public Health Division, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s E. coli resource page.
The chain made its first public comments on the issue on Tuesday, when it released a statement outlining how it is "moving aggressively" to address the outbreak. Chipotle’s social media accounts have made no proactive mention of the outbreak or restaurant closures. However, its social media team has actively monitored and responded to tweets with questions or concerns about the crisis.