State health officials are continuing their investigation into an E. coli outbreak linked to regional Chipotle restaurants.
The first round of tests, however, did not find E. coli bacteria in food samples taken from several Chipotle restaurants, health officials announced Monday.
Food outbreak investigations do not always identify a specific food source. A common reason is because the contaminated food source was consumed before the food samples were taken, health officials said.
State health officials believe the risk for new exposures is very low.
In Washington, 27 people have been sickened with E.coli O26 after eating at Chipotle restaurants. Four additional tests remain in progress. Clark County has reported 11 cases — more cases than any other county. In Oregon, 15 people have contracted an E. coli infection. In total, 14 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Chipotle is preparing for reopening; no date has been set. Restaurants in the state threw away all food items, sanitized each facility and will bring in all new food before reopening. In addition, high-risk food items will be pretested before heading to restaurants, fresh produce will be rinsed and sanitized and county public health inspectors will visit each restaurant to ensure compliance.