A number of Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota have been linked by health officials to a recent outbreak of salmonella.
Some 45 people have been sickened, with five hospitalized, primarily in the South-Eastern part of the state, including Chipotle franchises in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Health officials say they have identified the possible ingredient that harbored the pathogen and have swapped it out. It is now reportedly safe to eat at the Mexican-themed restaurant. 
“There is no reason to believe that this product is available anywhere in Minnesota anymore,” Minnesota Health Department epidemiologist Dana Eikmeier told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“Chipotle has been extremely proactive in collaborating with investigators to quickly control the outbreak and identify its source,” Dana Eikmeier, epidemiologist for the Food-borne Diseases Unit of the Minnesota Department of Health, said in a statement.
Thirty-two of the 34 individuals sickened ate at Chipotles located in the Twin Cities, St. Cloud or Rochester, between August 16 and 26. The customers began experiencing symptoms between the 20th and 29th of the month. The ill ranged in age from 15 to 67. 
A spokesman for the health department says there is nothing to suggest that the outbreak has affected people in any other state, but information about the outbreak has been entered into a nationwide monitoring system should new reports of illnesses emerge.
“This is an unusually large number of people who have reported [being infected] in such a space of time,” said Doug Schultz, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health, noting that the supervisor of the agency’s food-borne illness unit described it as “one of the largest he’s seen in 20 years.”
The Chipotle outbreak follows an outbreak of salmonella in 30 states that the Centers for Disease Control has linked to “slicer,” or American cucumbers imported from Mexico. Some 341 people have been sickened in that outbreak, including two people who died. More than half of the individuals who were sickened are children younger than 18. Seventy people have been hospitalized. 
According to the Mayo Clinic, salmonella infection is spread by eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs or egg products. It causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache and blood in the stool. 
 Mayo Clinic
Featured image courtesy of the ASSOCIATED PRESS
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.