La Mesa, California (2008): More than 28 people came down with Hepatitis A, with no source found. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that is generally transmitted from contact with feces or drinks of an infected person.
Kent, Ohio (2008): More than 500 people fell ill to a Norovirus outbreak near Kent State University. The Norovirus was linked to an infected employee.
Six states including Colorado, Utah, and New York (2009): A total of 29 customers were infected by an E. Coli outbreak linked to Chipotle’s iceberg lettuce.
California (2015): Norovirus strikes again, infecting about 80 customers and 17 employees. Health inspectors attributed the contamination to dirty and inoperative equipment, connected to the sewer, and other sanitary and health violations.
Minnesota (2015): Tomatoes are the culprits again, as 64 people were sickened after eating at Chipotle locations in Minnesota. The salmonella was linked to the tomatoes, which were then swapped out from a different supplier.
It is fairly reasonable that tomatoes, lettuce and sanitation have a role in the frequent transmission of these contagions. However, there seems to be little discussion of the potential contamination due to poultry, cattle, or dairy products as a possible source. WebMD indicates that “Beef, poultry, milk, and eggs are most often infected with Salmonella” and “E. Coli is a bacterium that lives in the digestive tract of humans and animals”. As consumers, the demand for proper grazing and handling of meat should be a top priority. Although it is financially convenient to shame fresh fruits and vegetables, is fresh produce the real reason for the reoccurring outbreaks? You be the judge.