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Another Chipotle restaurant closes, and the outbreak mystery deepens

I am an English Literature major at Long Island University. I am the Head Copyeditor for the school newspaper the Pioneer. In my spare time I impulsively watch the Twilight Saga in one sitting more times than I care to admit. I am also a...

Norovirus strikes again, but this time in a surprising way

A Chipotle restaurant in Billerica, Massachusetts, has voluntarily closed its doors as a temporary measure to completely sanitize the entire facility. The reason? There has been a norovirus outbreak — this time among its employees. So far four employees have fallen ill, but only one has officially been diagnosed with the norovirus.

It has been a tough year for Chipotle, and it seems it's only beginning to get worse. In 2015, several Chipotle restaurants closed in response to outbreaks, although most of these closures were on a voluntary basis. Last month all Chipotle restaurants closed for a few hours to have a companywide meeting to revamp its sanitation needs. Now a Chipotle restaurant in Billerica, Massachusetts, has been added to the list of temporary closures. However, this time it's the employees who have fallen sick, not customers.

More: Chipotle's one-day shutdown proves it's taking food safety seriously

So far one employee in the Billerica restaurant has been diagnosed with the virus, and two other employees reportedly have the symptoms of the virus. Yet no customers have been reported to be ill. It is plausible that the virus has spread among the employees because it is highly contagious. A Chipotle spokesperson claims that the shutdown in Billerica was for "full sanitation" reasons after they learned their employees were ill.

More: 10 reasons we keep eating at Chipotle

It is a strange phenomenon that keeps creeping up consistently in the news — all of these Chipotle controversies leave many people with an unsettled feeling about the safety of what they are consuming. Something is just not right about Chipotle. As each restaurant closes its doors temporarily, it is hard to not wonder why this problem has yet to be solved.

These food safety issues have garnered a lot of attention, and author Michael Pollan, like many of us, is wondering where this recurring issue stems from, considering the CDC closed its E. coli investigation still not knowing what caused the outbreak.

"Here we haven't learned," Pollan told Grub Street, commenting recently on the Chipotle outbreaks. "It could be that their insistence on fresh food has created a certain vulnerability in their system... I think we should be prepared to draw conclusions about their food chain, but we don't have enough information to do it yet."

Yes, it's true — not all the facts have been presented. However, it is safe to say that people will have a wary eye when it comes to consuming at Chipotle. How many more temporary closures have to occur before we learn what is really causing these health-safety issues? After Chipotle was confronted a few months back about these outbreaks, a spokesperson declined to respond to the allegations that Chipotle was the cause of the different viral outbreaks.

Will Chipotle lose our trust? Can we trust a chain that is unable to get to the bottom of these viral outbreaks?

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

Norovirus strikes again, but this time in a surprising way
Image: Michael Saechang/Flickr

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