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Chipotle Plans To DNA Test Produce After E-Coli Outbreaks In Nine States 147 writes: Lisa Jenning reports at Restaurant News that Chipotle plans to do DNA-based tests of all fresh produce before it is shipped to restaurants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle now includes seven more people in three new states, including Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania, for a total count of 52 sickened in nine states. Most of the illnesses were in Washington, with 27 cases, and Oregon, with 13 cases. Twenty people have been hospitalized but there have been no reported deaths. Health officials say a meal or ingredient from Chipotle was likely the cause, but they have not yet identified the specific source of the outbreak. Chipotle's founder and co-chief executive, Steve Ells apologized to patrons who fell ill after eating at the company's restaurants. "This was a very unfortunate incident and I'm deeply sorry that this happened, but the procedures we're putting in place today are so above industry norms that we are going to be the safest place to eat." The chain will begin end-of-shelf-life testing to ensure quality specifications are met throughout the shelf life of products. The data collected will be used to measure the performance of vendors and suppliers to enhance food safety throughout the system.

But food safety experts are mixed about the effectiveness of such screening efforts for the prevention of foodborne illness. Bob Whitaker, chief science and technology officer for the Produce Marketing Association, says such tests are not practical as a screening tool. Instead, restaurant chains should focus on whether their suppliers have adequate food-safety programs in place. "You can't test your way to safety," says Whitaker. "The problem with product testing by itself is that it's hard to take enough samples to be confident that the product is free of any pathogens." DNA tests are considered among the most accurate and fast, with same-day testing available for organisms like E. coli or salmonella, says Morgan Wallace. Some manufacturers don't wait for results, since produce is perishable, but that introduces the risk of a produce recall if a pathogen has been identified after shipment. Others hold the product until test results are confirmed, but that practice adds holding costs and reduces the shelf life.
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Chipotle Plans To DNA Test Produce After E-Coli Outbreaks In Nine States

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  • Glad to hear they are trying something different. I am just recovering from a so called food-born-illness from a different restaurant and it was sure nasty. Stuck on the toilet with a bucket for puking for over 12 hours is not pleasant nor are the days after.
    • Score: -5, too much information.

    • Stuck on the toilet with a bucket for puking for over 12 hours is not pleasant nor are the days after.

      Geez, that sounds more like you were possessed by Satan than food-borne illness.

      • Geez, that sounds more like you were possessed by Satan than food-borne illness.

        I got food poisoning at a beer&bbq festival this last season and spend the next six hours vomiting violently. There was an hour or two in a park, vomiting under a plant. Then two hours' ride home in the back of the van, desperately clutching a bucket and occasionally moaning in pain. Then another three hours spent with the toilet. It was literally one of the worst experiences of my life. I didn't wish I would die, but a coma would have been welcome. Breaking my finger was more fun.

    • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

      You got off lightly, Food poisoning caused me to be ill/puking for 4+ weeks with potential long term effects.

      • Re:Interesting idea (Score:5, Informative)

        by KGIII ( 973947 ) <> on Sunday December 13, 2015 @08:56AM (#51109235) Journal

        Botulism? When you're shitting bile and blood, projectile shitting at times, it's pretty rough. They have a treatment for it, I've undergone it, where they basically increase your immunity by feeding you small amounts of botulism on crackers. It's a strange process but once you've had botulism then you'll be more susceptible to it in the future. The treatment was fairly new when I went through it (it was my second bout with it) and they're able to build the resistance back up over time with the smaller doses.

        In an earlier post, I mentioned that I'd spare the details of botulism for those who have never had it. I still will as not even *I* have words enough to describe it. Unless things have changed, the leading cause of death (and botulism is *very* deadly - even in intensive care units) is because of the stress from evacuating your alimentary canal causes your heart to rupture. Yes, you puke (even without anything coming out) or shit (again, with nothing except maybe some intestinal wall tissue, white milky liquid, and yellow bile forced from your system coming out) so forcefully that your heart explodes.

        So, that - the above description - *is* sparing them the details. You will be months, years even, getting to the point where you're well again and you may never be fully well again. I can now eat honey and chicken again and I'm usually only worried about the chicken and I tend to avoid it unless I am damned sure of the cooking process. I consume a little honey every day (that I remember) in order to help keep my resistance up. Do *not* give young children honey!

        There are other sources for botulism but those are the two primary sources. The effects of botulism are beyond my ability to type. There are few things on this planet that are truly worse than death, botulism is one of them. Botulism doesn't mean you were ill and threw up a little after dinner. Botulism means you nearly died.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Wait until you get botulism. No, not the food poisoning that you're sick from for a half a day but the kind where you spend days (or weeks) in the hospital and it takes six or more months to feel well again. I'll spare you the details but, if you want, you can count yourself lucky as it could have been much, much worse.

  • Can someone please explain how genetic status relates to a bacterial contamination? WTF?

    • by stevez67 ( 2374822 ) on Saturday December 12, 2015 @09:33PM (#51107751)

      They take a sample, extract all of the DNA, analyze it for sequences that are only found in pathogens, reject any lots of produce that carry pathogen sequences. The USDA requires a similar test on meat products like hamburger. The world needs a lot less wtf and more scientific literacy.

      • by Gojira Shipi-Taro ( 465802 ) on Saturday December 12, 2015 @10:10PM (#51107857) Homepage

        The truly effective method would include not only banning lots that carry it, but publicly identifying the source, and after a couple such lots, dropping that supplier permanently (and announcing it). Once supplying infected stock becomes a business-ending practice, suppliers will become a lot more careful themselves, which is what is truly needed here.

        • This wouldn't even be an issue if not for our methods of food handling. We process foods in massive batches which lend themselves to cross-contamination. Chipotle is just one of the zillions of "restaurants" which exemplify this mass shoveling approach to food.

          What is needed is more local production, this is especially possible with greens because they are easy to produce hydroponically in "vertical gardens".

      • Ok, so, what happens if their one sample is taken 5 mm from where the bacteria in question is?

        You do understand that such bacteria are not a continuous coating over all surfaces of the food, right?

        This is just companies learning from your wonderful government.

        People have accepted security theater, this is just health safety theater. Impress people with advanced sounding
        technology (DNA testing! yes, really, they will use that well known library of evil bacteria DNA library.. oh wait, that doesnt exist).


  • What if any will this do to prevent a recurrence of the norovirus illness that sickened 141 Boston College students [] who ate at Chipotle?

    • I got very sick after eating at Chipotle nearly 10 years ago. The occurrences of illness have only increased since then. It could have been due to poor worker sanitation, or maybe E. Coli, but either way, I haven't eaten there since, and I don't plan to eat there again ever.

      Steve Ells has apologized for the illness. So what. Steve, you can stuff your sorrys in a sack!
  • Food Irradiation (Score:4, Informative)

    by schmaustech ( 766915 ) on Saturday December 12, 2015 @09:40PM (#51107769)
    This could all be avoided by simple food irradiation. However most Americans are too ignorant to understand this.
  • Given that at least 2 of the Seattle-area restaurants were immediately shut down again by the health department for health code violations, this is beyond ingredient suppliers -- they need to hire managers who actually pay attention to what their employees aren't doing (e.g. washing hands, keeping food hot/cold enough, etc).
    • by BKX ( 5066 )

      Having worked in a restaurant, I can tell you those places must have been doing some nightmarish shit. The company I work for has only been shut down once (years ago) because mouse turds were found on a slicer, not in use, which is pretty damn egregious if you ask me, but not as serious as people would expect. That manager and employee were both fired. Anything less just gets you yelled at and, maybe, if it's really bad, you'll have to throw away some product. We were once forced to throw out an entire cool

      • That's the exception though. The rule is a good talking to. Having said that, restaurants are usually scared shitless of the health department, and generally keep things safe.

        Eh. Tons of restaurants don't. I've got food poisoning a ton after going out. And I've heard all the scare stories. We've got a sports bar here in Kelseyville where one of my friends worked for a moment, and they are horrible about food handling and break every rule. They're still open years later.

  • It's amateur night at supply chain management school.

    Please, don't insult us. Chipotle management screwed up in their abortive quest to use the Chipotle chain to finance their big dreams of creating a gourmet restaurant chain.

    They never intended to keep the Chipotle brand around after they achieved their dream, but it never happened, and now we have lots of people with puke bugs.

    Details here: []

  • The E. coli outbreak is targeted at the company loudest about antibiotic free, additive free, non-GMO foods. The things Chipotle was doing were causing waves in the restaurant and agriculture businesses that one or more players didn't like. This E. coli outbreak has set that back years, people now question whether it was the right move by Chipotle. If they looked they will find this started as a crime.
    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Really? I mean, yeah, really? Do you have *any* evidence to support that claim or is just just a presumption because "it's obvious if you look at it right?" 'Cause I'm thinking you're a bit crazy. Big Agriculture, such as it exists, isn't going to (probably) go out and intentionally poison a bunch of people when they can sell organic foods at a much higher profit percentage. They're not going to risk that kind of fallout should they be discovered. There's no darkened walnut-lined room with a giant oaken tab

      • The moon landings were faked too. If you have a powerful enough telescope you can actually look at where they supposedly landed on the moon and left the rover and LEM. But you know what those placed look like - an abandoned sound stage. You take a photograph of the moon at high enough resolution and you can see the remains of a camera and lightning boom. Not the LEM or rover - the debris is the wrong shape. It exactly matches the lighting equipment used in the 60s on TV sets. Filmed. Right there. Fake as ca

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          I must confess... I've looked at the moon through a high-powered telescope (there's an observatory at Kents Hill) and I did not see any evidence of the moon landings! I've seen the lack of evidence with my own eyes! They must be faked!

        • Yeah. The reason they ended the Apollo program was a contract dispute about the planet, about 300 light-years away, that we were using to stage the moon landings.

  • All you need to do is a standard Gram test. less than $0.08 cost per test and can be done in their own lab easily

    What the fuck is wrong with these executives? full blown DNA test? why don't they also perform a full gas chromatograph as well?

  • []

    ( Amusing blog. Another good one is this: [] )

  • For years I vetoed Chipotle when my friends wanted to go there. It is utter, bland, mediocrity -- the Olive Garden of casual Mexican, if you will. Far, far too much of day-to-day operations is left to employees, if you're lucky they will be older Latina women who put out so-so food... if you're not, it'll be teenagers giving you lettuce stems and dehydrated (but responsibly sourced!) Chicken.

    IMO foodborne pathogen outbreaks take a fair amount of carelessness - either in the way the item is sourced or the

  • The food's trendy, but it's toxic on contact.

    (Laughing at mods that blew their modpoints on the first round)

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.