Chipotle Mexican Grill was just getting back on its public-relations feet from an outbreak of E. coli in a number of its restaurants across nine states last month when an announcement came Monday from the US Centers for Disease Control that it is investigating more cases of E. coli affecting diners in North Dakota, Kansas and Oklahoma.
That’s on top of the 140 Boston College students and others who became ill after eating at Chipotle earlier this month. The Boston incidents “were likely connected to norovirus and not E. coli, according to the company,” USA Today reports. A Boston Chipotle shut down due to the outbreak.
As if all this wasn’t enough, in September, health officials in Minnesota linked an outbreak of Salmonella to tomatoes being served at a local Chipotle.
"Nothing is more important to me than serving my guests food that is safe” -Chipotle founder Steve Ells https://t.co/JmP72mL631
— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) December 16, 2015
Chipotle reported that it had expected to see “additional cases” and that the company has “completed a comprehensive reassessment of our food safety programs with an eye to finding best practices for each of the ingredients we use,” USA Today notes. It is testing the shelf life of each of its ingredients and aiming to improve its supply chain as well as giving its employees more food-safety training. For the latter, it is bringing in outside consultants to work with its employees.
The CDC is attempting to figure out if the two cases are linked. “These recent cases occurred several weeks after the last cases in the larger outbreak and in a different geographic location,” said Dr. Ian Williams, chief of the CDC’s Outbreak Response & Prevention Branch, according to CNN. “This may suggest they do not share a common source, but the investigation is ongoing.”
Williams noted that although the CDC can identify the location of restaurants that people ate in, Chipotle’s record-keeping is making it difficult to “figure out what food is in common across all those restaurants,” the New York Times reports.
Chipotle’s shares took a hit on Monday, dropping $19.07 to $522.01. Back in August, the stock price had been $757.77.