Chipotle's Food Illness Rates Are Skyrocketing as Experts Fear Another Outbreak

Chipotle has had more than its share of food safety woes in recent years, and experts predict another outbreak of foodborne illness attributed to the chain within the next year, MSN reports. According to Patrick Quade, founder of IWasPoisoned.com, a site that allows users to self-report illnesses, the rate of foodborne illnesses associated with Chipotle is at least nine times higher than all other restaurant chains.

As you can see from the table, illness reports related to Chipotle stores stand at 29 per 100; Taco Bell, in second place, has 5 reports per 100 stores, followed by Wendys (~3 per 100), McDonald's (~2.5 per 100) and Burger King (~2.25 per 100).

IWasPoisoned.com

"The rate of food poisoning reports attributed to Chipotle continues to be multiples higher than peers," Quade said in an interview with Business Insider. "At this rate of reporting, our data indicates we should expect to see another outbreak attributed to Chipotle sometime in the next six to 12 months."

However, Chipotle disputes the accuracy of the data from Quade's site.

"Self-reported data of this kind includes no clinical validation and is largely speculative and inaccurate. Using such unscientific data that is often reported anonymously to try to predict future outbreaks seems like little more than irresponsible speculation," Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told Business Insider.

IWasPoisoned.com

While Chipotle has a point -- self-reported, crowd-sourced data like this has a high margin of error -- so far, IWasPoisoned.com has a pretty solid track record in tracking and spotting outbreaks of foodborne illness.

It's also possible Chipotle's reported rates of foodborne illnesses are higher in part due to its already spotty reputation. As MSN points out, "Many people also tend to blame whatever they ate last for an illness, when in reality, symptoms of sicknesses like norovirus don't show up for 24-48 hours after ingestion of infected food."

Chipotle has been fighting an uphill battle for its public image ever since a 2015 E. coli outbreak hit stores in 14 states and gutted sales by more than 30 percent.

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