A media frenzy has erupted after a Virginia Chipotle store was presumed to have had a norovirus outbreak.
With headlines like "At Chipotle, A Whiff Of Another Food Safety Scandal Is Enough To Make Investors Queasy" and "Chipotle reopens restaurant that made customers violently ill," the restaurant chain is amidst a PR nightmare again.
We knew something was up after we saw a massive Foodable Labs 28 point drop by the brand over the last few days.
Over the weekend, 13 customers that visited the Sterling, Va. store felt ill. The store immediately closed on Monday and Tuesday. The store reopened on Wednesday, but unfortunately for the brand, the incident did not go unnoticed.
But, the norovirus has not bern confirmed as of yet. The sick customers had reported symptoms that are consistent with the virus.
"We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible," said Jim Marsden, Chipotle's executive director for food safety to "Business Insider."
A local health department director said they are waiting on tests to confirm the cause of the illness.
He doesn't think this was related to a food supply issue. The norovirus is a highly contagious disease and employee may have had it.
The Virginia store chose to close voluntarily.
“They have taken steps to bring in new food product, professionally clean the facility and minimize the likelihood that any ill employee would be working,” said Dr. David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department to "WTOP," a local Sterling publication. “We are not aware of any concern with the food supply chain, all existing open food products have been discarded, and the restaurant has started they have brought in new food preparers."
Steve Ells, the chain's founder and CEO, has been highly scrutinized by the media ever since the food safety crisis back in 2015.
“The event that occurred at this restaurant is consistent with Norovirus which can be introduced by people into any closed environment like schools, cruise ships, nursing homes or restaurants," said Ells. “It is unfortunate that anyone became ill after visiting our restaurant, and when we learned of this issue, we took aggressive action to correct the problem and protect our customers.”
Shares of the burrito chain have dropped down as much as 7.6% after this story hit.
Do you think Chipotle will still be able to come back from this?