Chipotle Mexican Grill Stock Tanks After Presence of Rodents and Norovirus

Chipotle Mexican Grill Stock Tanks After Presence of Rodents and Norovirus
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After a recent string of unfortunate events at two Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants, the Mexican fast dining chain’s stock has dropped more than 3 percent, reaching its lowest point since last November.

The Loudoun County Health Department said Thursday that it had identified about 60 people who became ill after eating at the Chipotle Mexican Grill in Sterling, Virginia. One of the customers tested positive for norovirus, the chain confirmed Tuesday.

A total of 133 people reported feeling sick after dining at the location on IWasPoisoned.com, though Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, told Bloomberg that seeing as such data was “user-generated,” there was “no medical or clinical verification” to confirm it.

Also on Tuesday, this time at a Dallas-area Chipotle, rodents were spotted crawling on the floor and wall of the restaurant. The presence of the rodents was confirmed by cellphone video captured by diners. Arnold blamed the incident on mice entering through a structural gap in the building.

“Management immediately removed them and the gap has been repaired,” Arnold said. “We’ve been in touch with our guests to offer our sincere apologies.”

Recent events notwithstanding, the chain has had a difficult time recovering from the string of high-profile food-borne illnesses at its restaurants since 2015, including outbreaks of norovirus and E. coli. In March of last year, Organic Authority conducted a survey of more than 540 customers about their trust of the chain; 37 percent responded that they would not eat at Chipotle again.

Investors are similarly pessimistic about the chain’s ability to recover its reputation.

“While norovirus at a single location is not overly significant on the surface, we believe there is greater uncertainty now as there is a reasonable probability that media coverage will outweigh the severity of the incident and create renewed same-store sales weakness, expanding downside risk within our framework,” BMO Capital Markets’ Andrew Strelzik wrote in a note to clients Wednesday of the stock’s volatility, according to CNBC.

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.