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Chipotle Norovirus Outbreak under US Criminal Probe

Image: Chipotle Norovirus Outbreak under US Criminal Probe
(Copyright AP)

Wednesday, 06 Jan 2016 03:00 PM

US officials have launched a criminal probe into an August 2015 norovirus outbreak at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in California, the company said Wednesday in a securities filing.

Chipotle in December received a federal grand jury subpoena following the outbreak that reportedly led to the illness of some 80 customers and about 20 employees.

"The subpoena requires us to produce a broad range of documents related to a Chipotle restaurant in Simi Valley, California, that experienced an isolated norovirus incident during August 2015," Chipotle said in the filing. "We intend to fully cooperate in the investigation."

The subpoena is from the US attorney's office for the central district of California, which is investigating the case with the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations.

Chipotle also said that restaurant sales have fallen more steeply since a separate norovirus outbreak in Boston in December 2015 hit customer traffic, adding to its woes following several food-safety problems.

In the wake of the Boston norovirus outbreak in early December, which received national media attention, comparable restaurant sales fell 34 percent, Chipotle said.

Sales fell further in the week of December 21 after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it was investigating five new cases of E.coli contamination.

Those were on top of earlier E.coli cases that led Chipotle in November to shut 43 restaurants on the US west coast. Chipotle said the five new cases "were the same strain of E.coli 025 but with a different DNA fingerprint."

Chipotle now expects to spend $14-16 million in the fourth quarter on lab tests, food replacement and food safety upgrades, up from the prior range of $6-8 million.

Fourth-quarter diluted earnings are now expected at $1.70-$1.90 per share, down from the $2.45-$2.85 per share projected a month ago.

The restaurant chain, a Wall Street darling until the current rash of problems, has vowed to become an industry leader in food safety.

Shares of Chipotle were down 4.1 percent at $430.43 at midday.

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© AFP 2017

   
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US officials have launched a criminal probe into an August 2015 norovirus outbreak at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in California, the company said Wednesday in a securities filing.Chipotle in December received a federal grand jury subpoena following the outbreak that...
US, health, food, safety, restaurants, Chipotle
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2016-00-06
Wednesday, 06 Jan 2016 03:00 PM
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