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    Chipotle Closes Ohio Location after Illness Reports

  • Chipotle planned to reopen the restaurant Tuesday pending approval from the local health department.

    Chipotle
    Led by price hikes and queso add-ons, Chipotle’s same-store sales surged 3.3 percent in the second quarter of fiscal 2018.

    A Chipotle in Powell, Ohio, closed July 30 after reports of illnesses surfaced on the website iwaspoisoned.com. Chipotle spokeswoman Laurie Schalow told Business Insider Chipotle planned to reopen the restaurant Tuesday pending approval from the local health department.

    “We take all claims of food safety very seriously and we are currently looking into a few reports of illness at our Powell, Ohio restaurant," Schalow said, per Business Insider. "We are not aware of any confirmed food borne illness cases, and we are cooperating with the local health department."

    READ MORE: Chipotle’s digital progress hits high gear

    According to the website, three reports were made on July 29 and July 30, indicating that at least nine customers fell sick after eating at the Powell location. Patrick Quade, the founder of iwaspoisoned.com, told Business Insider that the number of reports had grown to 105, or 170 people sick, by Tuesday morning. Symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and fever were reported. The Delaware General Health District told Reuters the county health department received more than 100 calls since the first complaint linked to the restaurant came in Sunday.

    Traci Whittaker, a public information officer, said the department wasn't aware of the pathogen that caused the illnesses, according to Reuters.

    Records show local health officials inspected the location July 26 and found violations related to food not being held at proper temperatures, Business Insider said. Lettuce was not properly cooled and beans were not held at a warm enough temperature. The records added that a follow up would take place in roughly “3 weeks due to cooling of lettuce.” Whittaker told Reuters the infractions were immediately corrected.

    Chipotle’s stock took a 3.3 percent drop in after-hours trading Monday following Business Insider’s report. It was trading down close to 2 percent in pre-market movement Tuesday and slipped as much as 9 percent during the day.

    It was mid-July last year when more than 130 customers reporting falling ill from norovirus-like symptoms at a Sterling, Virginia, Chipotle. The restaurant closed for two days. Steve Ells, then the company’s CEO, said Chipotle “isolated the failure that occurred,” and that the Sterling issue was related to a restaurant failing to comply with its procedures to prevent norovirus. Chipotle believed an employee came to work sick and did not follow the protocols.

    Chipotle retrained kitchen crews on food safety after the incident.

    That news also surfaced through iwaspoisoned.com when 89 reports and 133 customers reported falling sick.

    Chipotle’s 2015 crisis was mostly an E. coli outbreak that hit public conscious when 42 locations in the Pacific Northwest briefly shut down. It ended up affecting 14 states and leading to a yearlong sales downturn that erased around half of Chipotle’s market cap at the time.

    As for norovirus, the brand blamed sick employees for two outbreaks in 2015. A norovirus outbreak in a Boston Chipotle sickened nearly 150 customers.

    In Chipotle’s second-quarter earnings following last July’s incident, shares slipped to a 52-week low of $336.52. They have recovered quite nicely since former Taco Bell head Brian Niccol joined the brand as CEO in March and were trading for $455 to start Tuesday despite the slip.

    Led by price hikes and queso add-ons, Chipotle’s same-store sales surged 3.3 percent in the second quarter of fiscal 2018, which was reported July 26. Revenue also lifted 8 percent to 2.4 billion.