What’s more ironic than a raw milk fan sharing unpasteurized milk with fellow legislators in celebration of a new herd-share law and having the toasts coincidentally followed by an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness? One of the reporters who broke the story is named Gutman. And I thought Coral Beach was a great byline. The gut-wrenching news reported March 8 by David Gutman and Eric Eyre of the Charleston Gazette-Mail newspaper triggered a spurt of reports across the country by drive-time disc jockeys, TV newscasters and all ilk of milk reporters. Who could resist, especially after reading what Republican Delegate Scott Cadle told the Charleston newspaper about the raw milk he shared from his secret source. “It’s just bad timing,” the Gazette-Mail’s Gutman and Eyre reported the one-term legislator said. “It ain’t because of the raw milk. With that many people around and that close quarters and in that air and environment, I just call if a big germ. All that Capitol is, is a big germ. …A lot of people get sick every year we go down there. They call if the Capitol crud.” Public health officials in West Virginia’s capital city of Charleston are investigating the Capitol outbreak. Seems like that shouldn’t require too much sleuthing. There’s a relatively short list of people who drank the milk Cadle offered in his celebratory frenzy. If I was one of their constituents — or co-workers at the “big germ” as Cadle calls the Capitol — the least I would expect would be for them to provide samples so public health officials could determine if they had contracted an E. coli infection from the raw milk so that measures could be taken to avoid person-to-person transmission. For the record, public health officials believe raw milk is too dangerous to allow to be sold in interstate commerce. Some states do allow limited sales under herd-share laws and even fewer allow retail sales of unpasteurized raw milk. California officials are currently investigating an E. coli outbreak that has sickened several children and been traced to raw milk from Organic Pastures Dairy Co. in Fresno. Chipotle’s new normal It had to happen, but I’m betting the top brass at Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill didn’t think it would happen less than a month onto their new marketing blitz designed to entice customers to return following six foodborne illness outbreaks in the last six months of 2015. This past week a Chipotle location closed for cleaning because of sick employees. The news about the burrito store in Billerica, MA, closing because of suspected norovirus among employees broke the same day the fast food chain issued a news release about its sixth annual “Cultivate Festival.” While the Chipotle marketing team was trying to get ink — yes, it still counts as ink even if it’s only pixels on a screen — and airtime about “the Cultivate Festival, which encourages attendees to think and talk about food and food issues in a fun and engaging environment,” email inboxes in newsrooms across the continent were blowing up with Google alerts about the Billerica location’s sick employees. Wall Street noticed, too. Chipotle corporate issued an incredibly brief statement: “After learning that four of our employees were not feeling well, our restaurant in Billerica, Mass. was closed for a full sanitization. No customers (sic) illnesses are connected to this restaurant. Any employees who reported feeling ill will be held out of the restaurant until they fully recover.” New sick leave policies in place at Chipotle allegedly provide paid leave for employees who are required to remain away from work for five days after symptoms subside in certain instances, according to the corporation’s special food safety website. However, Chipotle’s leaders have not responded to requests for details on what constitute “certain” circumstances or what trouble and expense employees must go through to document those circumstances, not to mention who pays for that documentation. One bit of info the corporation has made public in recent days is the compensation package for its top management. As a publicly traded company the disclosure is required by the federal government. Founder and co-CEO Steve Ells got just more than $13 million for 2015, down from more than $28 million in 2014. Almost 500 people were confirmed sickened by food from his brainchild in the six documented outbreaks in the second half of 2015.