Chipotle assures public their food is safe as it gets ready to reopen; source of E. coli still unknown

SEATTLE -- An 11-day shutdown is coming to an end for Chipotle as the company gets ready to reopen all of its restaurants across Washington on Wednesday.

In preparation for the reopening, health inspectors on Tuesday scrutinized every Chipotle branch across Washington.

“Our commitment is to find new ways to make our company better,” Chipotle representative Chris Arnold said.

Chipotle tested 900 different food samples, and the state did their own investigation, but they have yet to uncover the source of the E. coli.

“For the most part, they have national suppliers of most products. Any products that were unique to the Northwest, believe me, was tested,” Dr. Scott Lindquist, of  the Washington Department of Health, said.

Although the testing continues, the Washington Department of Health says they may never identify the source of the E.coli.

In order to ensure consumers their food is safe, Chipotle said it is double washing all their fresh produce from now on and independently testing their food at a distribution center.

“All of the produce, all of the raw meat and the dairy, cheese, sour cream, will be tested at the distribution centers before they are released,” Arnold said.

“It seems like Chipotle has gone above and beyond what is being asked here,” Becky Elias, of  Seattle-King County Public Health, said.

Q13 FOX News was inside Chipotle’s Northgate branch as inspectors approved the restaurant to reopen.

Chipotle voluntarily closed 43 branches across Washington and Oregon after the outbreak.

Eight of the 43 Chipotle branches have been associated with the outbreak.

“The fact that they can’t pinpoint the product, that just makes it more problematic for Chipotle,” attorney Bill Marler said.

As Chipotle resupplies their food Tuesday, Marler is getting ready to file more lawsuits.

“This put a woman in ICU, it put two kids here in Seattle at Children’s for over a week,” Marler said.

Marler  is already representing 26 people sickened after eating at Chipotle.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the people affected,” Arnold said.

Seattle-King County Public Health confirmed that another E. coli outbreak happened in July that was linked to the Chipotle in Capitol Hill. Five people got sick in that outbreak. The health department says they did not go public with the information because the risk had passed by the time they heard about the cases.

But the department said from now on they will do a better job of notifying the public about these outbreaks. They are also in the process of creating a window placard system so diners can read the latest health inspections before they order.