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Minneapolis woman sues Chipotle over salmonella outbreak

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A day after Minnesota's Department of Health announced that a salmonella outbreak has been linked to at least 17 Chipotle restaurants in the state, a Minneapolis woman filed a lawsuit against the popular chain.

Attorneys for April Beck say she was hospitalized twice after eating at Chipotle's Uptown Minneapolis location – first with severe cramps and diarrhea, then with blood clots in both arms, Food Safety News reports. (One of the attorneys – William D. Marler – is the publisher of Food Safety News.)

The lawyers say the Health Department confirmed that Beck was infected with salmonella. Her lawsuit says Chipotle has a responsibility to serve food fit for human consumption and the restaurant was negligent for failing to do that.

The Health Department said Thursday that Chipotle has been "extremely proactive" in collaborating with investigators to control the outbreak and locate its source.

Chipotle says it has changed the supplier of a suspect produce item that is under investigation.

Health Department spokesman Doug Schultz told CNN: "That's the most important thing because while a new supplier could also have problems, it's highly unlikely."

The outbreak

The Health Department says investigators are confident that the outbreak linked to Chipotle has ended. They say it would have involved meals that were eaten between Aug. 16 and Aug. 26.

Her lawyers say Beck dined at Chipotle on Aug. 10 and was hospitalized 13 days later.

The department said on Thursday that 45 salmonella cases had been reported since Sep. 2. Schultz told ABC that's an unusually large number of people reporting infections in that time, adding that this is one of the largest outbreaks he's seen in 20 years with the Health Department.

Of the 17 Chipotle locations linked to the outbreak, 15 are in the Twin Cities area, with the others in St. Cloud and Rochester.

Challenges to preventing salmonella

An infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University told ABC it's difficult for restaurants to know if food is contaminated with salmonella when it arrives from a supplier – particularly if the items are served uncooked.

The owner of a Rochester bar and grill that is not part of the salmonella investigation told ABC 6 News: “I feel bad for the restaurant it happens to because you really don’t have any control over that. Especially when you’re buying from good companies, these are good, outstanding companies.”

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