After another day of student health center admissions and disease incubation, Boston College now reports that 120 of their students are sick with vomiting and nausea. The majority report that they had recently eaten at a Chipotle restaurant near the campus over the weekend, proving either that they contracted the illness there, or that college students are very fond of Chipotle and norovirus happens is very contagious.
While the number of ill students is climbing, the good news for Chipotle is that the outbreak appears to have nothing to do with the E. coli outbreak that reached restaurants in nine states, now they have a new outbreak of norovirus, the pathogen that causes the most outbreaks from contaminated food in this country.
Norovirus is probably best known for its insidious presence on cruise ships, but most cases occur elsewhere. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, 70% of outbreaks originate when a sick person serves food. The virus can also spread to people who happen to be in a room where someone with the virus vomits, and is also impervious to many cleaning products and hand sanitizers.
While requiring employees who are sick to stay home is an important step, it’s not perfect, since people with norovirus can be contagious before and after they show any symptoms.
AdAge reports that an unnamed executive outlined the company’s post-outbreak marketing strategy. The campaign won’t begin until after the CDC officially declares the outbreak to be “over,” and it will include direct-mail coupons inviting customers back, making executives available for interviews, and running open letters to customers in newspapers.(They should probably also publish those on, say, Instagram or Facebook to reach their younger customers.)
The executive also explained some changes made to their cooking processes: lettuce, cilantro, and tomatoes are now processed in regional facilities, then sanitized and sealed for delivery to restaurants. That’s dicing that used to be done in restaurants.
Chipotle: CDC and Media Tactics Have Added to E. Coli Hype [AdAge]
Boston Students Afflicted by Chipotle-Linked Outbreak Top 120