LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA. — Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill have plummeted by as much as 15% since July 17, when officials confirmed at least 60 illnesses linked to a restaurant in Sterling, Va. One ill patron tested positive for norovirus, said David Goodfriend, Ph.D., director of the Loudoun County Health Department.
“This provides additional information but is not sufficient to determine the cause of the outbreak,” Dr. Goodfriend said. “The Health Department is awaiting further test results, which should be available early next week.”
Chipotle temporarily closed the restaurant for sanitization. Dr. Goodfriend said Chipotle has been working with the department to identify the cause of the illnesses and to prevent future illnesses by having department staff onsite on July 18 and 19.
In a statement, Chipotle said, “We are appreciative of the Department of Health (D.O.H.) for its prompt response and collaboration in addressing the recent incident of norovirus at one of our locations in Virginia. An update from the D.O.H. confirms that one patron tested positive for norovirus. The restaurant has reopened to customers, following a brief closure to allow for a complete sanitization. No other Chipotle restaurants were involved. Food safety is a top priority to us, and we apologize for any distress this has caused.”
Meanwhile, additional reports of illness are appearing on a web site called www.iwaspoisoned.com, which collects and screens reports of foodborne illness or “bad food experiences” while dining out. But Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, said “…that data is not clinically or medically validated in any way.”
Chipotle overhauled food safety procedures at all of its restaurants following a foodborne illness outbreak in 2015 that included 55 cases of E. coli O26 across 11 states followed by a norovirus outbreak at a Boston-based restaurant that reportedly sickened 80 individuals.Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill on the New York Stock Exchange closed at $345.34 on July 21, down $50.36 from its opening price on July 17.