Subscribe
First Look

Embattled Chipotle's stock falls as another store closes for food safety

Investors may be growing wary of the Mexican food chain, which has been dogged by a series of food safety scandals.

  • close
    Television news trucks are stationed outside a Chipotle restaurant in Billerica, Mass., on Wednesday. The store closed Wednesday after an employee tested positive for norovirus.
    Brian Snyder/Reuters
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Hopes that fast-food chain Chipotle could recover from a months-long string of food safety incidents took a hit Wednesday, as an employee's positive test for norovirus closed down a franchise in Billerica, Mass.

The chain decided to temporarily shut down the store as a precautionary measure. A company official said the store will go through a "full sanitization" and that no customers have been reported as sick. 

But the latest incident is one too many for investors frustrated by the Chipotle's ongoing struggle with food safety. Stock prices fell to $506, down by 3.4 percent, by the close of trading Wednesday. Share prices have fallen 24 percent since last year, after previous outbreaks of food illnesses tarnished the Mexican grill's "food with integrity" reputation.

Recommended: 10 fast foods that have disappeared

Up to 141 students at Boston College reported symptoms of norovirus after eating at a nearby Chipotle in December, prompting apologies from the chain's founder and co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Ells. 

"This was a very unfortunate incident and I'm deeply sorry that 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 told NBC. 

In February, franchises across the United States closed for half a day, as all employees underwent safety training and managers emphasized the importance of staying home when they felt ill. The chain has outlined changes to improve produce testing, shelf-life testing, and to better monitor its supply chain. 

For some customers drawn to Chipotle's claims as a more natural alternative to other fast food chains, however, patience could be wearing thin. 

In January, the chain was subpoenaed in a federal investigation linked to norovirus in California last year that health officials say impacted more than 200 people.

More than 50 people in ten states were impacted by E. coli outbreaks in October and November. Another illness impacting 64 people in Minnesota was traced to salmonella in tomatoes Chipotle used in August. 

"This is a fairly significant problem for Chipotle," Timothy Calkins, a clinical marketing professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, told NPR last month. "The difficult thing for Chipotle is that, it's not that there was one incident ... it creates an overall perception, and it raises questions about safety."

This report includes material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK