More than 500 people have filed complaints of possible food-borne illness after eating at the Chipotle in Powell, one of whom filed a lawsuit against the chain on Tuesday.
According to Delaware County court records, the plaintiff is seeking $25,000 in damages after experiencing diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, nausea, headaches and hot and cold flashes.
The Delaware County General Health District says more than 368 customers of the Sawmill Parkway location reported illness by Tuesday afternoon, and an additional 150 complaints came in since then.
Chipotle voluntarily closed the restaurant on Tuesday, but reopened after a positive inspection by Delaware County health officials.
Ohio State food science professor Ahmed Yousef says the quick preparation, open containers and cold ingredients that define Chipotle are possible reasons why the chain is so susceptible to food-borne pathogens.
"Having a cold dish prepared on the spot, and with the facility that is available, it is a challenge," Yousef says.
Stephanie DeGenaro, program manager for the food protection and public safety unit at the Delaware County General Health District, says they received smaller complaints about the same Chipotle location before.
"I believe within the last couple of years, we may have gotten a few complaints related to food handling at that facility, or related to cleanliness," DeGenaro says.
While the food-borne pathogen has not yet been identified, DeGenaro says they collected leftover food samples and requested stool samples from those who got sick.
"We're hoping to have test results if not by the end of this week, by early next week, at least on the human samples," she says.