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Chipotle founder swears restaurants will be safer soon

Chipotle founder Steve Ells apologized for the restaurant's illness outbreaks on "Today."NBC

Chipotle founder Steve Ells apologized for the restaurant’s illness outbreaks on “Today.”

The founder of Chipotle, doing damage control after the fast food restaurant has sickened hundreds of diners nationwide, swore Thursday the chain will soon become as “the safest restaurant to eat at it.”

Just…not yet.

Steve Ells, who is also a co-CEO of Chipotle, appeared on “Today” to give his first public statements about the outbreaks that have trashed the reputation of the organic Mexican grill that bills itself as “food with integrity.”

An E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle has sickened more than 50 people in at least nine states since late October. Meanwhile, more than 120 Boston College students now have norovirus thanks to a Chipotle joint, health officials said.

A NOV. 9, 2015, FILE PHOTOElaine Thompson/AP

A Chipotle in Seattle, temporarily closed as part of an E. coli outbreak.

Ells profusely apologized for the fast food flare-up on “Today,” despite acknowledging it’s not over, and that “more cases could come” in the near future.

He noted that dozens of franchises connected to the contaminations have been temporarily closed for inspection. But no one has figured out for sure what sparked the sicknesses, he said.

“We’ve had teams looking at this,” he said, and “tested all the ingredients, surfaces, thousands and thousands of tests, and they all came back negative.”

More than 200 people have been sickened in connection to Chipotle food, health officials said.Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than 200 people have been sickened in connection to Chipotle food, health officials said.

“Unfortunately, what got people sick was no longer in the system by the time they even showed symptoms,” he said.

Ells said the “silver lining” — a term “Today” host Matt Lauer took issue with — is that Chipotle will emerge as a cleaner eating establishment.

“This was a very unfortunate incident and I’m deeply sorry this happened, but the procedures we’re putting in place today are so above industry norms that we are going to be the safest place to eat,” he said.

The Denver-based Chipotle, which has about 1,800 locations nationwide, has seen its stock plunge more than 25%, from $ 750 to around $ 550, in the wake of the outbreaks.

jsilverstein@nydailynews.com

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Health – NY Daily News

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