Tomatoes the cause of Chipotle's salmonella outbreak in Minnesota

Exclusive: Chipotle becomes first national chain to go GMO-free
Exclusive: Chipotle becomes first national chain to go GMO-free

Minnesota health officials have determined the cause of the recent salmonella outbreak that was linked to Chipotle restaurants.

It was the tomatoes.

Chipotle said it switched produce suppliers for its Minnesota restaurants last week, when the Salmonella Newport outbreak was first detected. However, officials are still trying to confirm which farm the tomatoes came from.

A total of 64 people have been infected.

The investigation identified 22 different Chipotle restaurant locations and people were likely infected between August 16 and August 28. Those infected are between 10 and 69 years old, with nine people hospitalized.

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"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," MDH epidemiologist Dana Eikmeier said in a statement. "There is no longer a risk of salmonella from this particular product at Chipotle."

State testing protocols help health officials identify such outbreaks. Officials are alerted whenever two or more positive hits on the same strain of a bacteria occur within a short time frame.

The Minnesota health agency noted that many cases of salmonella go unreported, and urged anyone who suspects they are infected to get tested.

Among the symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. In extreme cases the infection can result in blood stream infections, meningitis or even death in those with weakened immune systems.

The outbreak is still being investigated by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

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