Chipotle customers are not shying away from the popular fast casual restaurant, despite 45 people becoming infected with the E. coli O26 strain in recent weeks.
Chipotle shares have tumbled 12.3% to an 18-month low on Friday on word that the E. coli outbreak is continuing to spread. The outbreak was first reported in Washington state and Oregon, and has since spread to four additional states: California, Ohio, New York and Minnesota.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says a common meal item or ingredient served at Chipotle was likely the source of the outbreak.
A 19-year-old college student in New York also said they were are of the outbreak, but noted they “have bigger things to worry about than E. coli.”
Customers regularly cite the quality of food, taste, and convenience for reasons why they continue to eat at Chipotle in the middle of the company’s largest E. coli outbreak since the restaurant chain launched.
While no deaths have been reported, food poisoning has led to 16 hospitalizations, the CDC reported on Friday.
Chipotle said on Friday that it had expanded testing of key ingredients and examined food-safety procedures in its restaurants in the wake of the outbreak.
Outbreaks are becoming more common in the United States, where customers are demanding less processed foods that often fail to kill certain types of pathogens.