Following a spate of E. coli, Salmonella, and norovirus infections experienced by customers who dined at Chipotle locations around the US, Chipotle plans to temporarily close all locations nationwide on Feb. 8 for a national staff meeting on food safety.
Over 1900 Chipotle locations will participate in the meeting, where they will be able to answer questions, discuss changes, and thank employees.
The numerous outbreaks, which occurred between August and December of 2015, significantly affected Chipotle’s sales, dropping Chipotle’s stock from a high of $750 to around $428 a share.
Chipotle first suffered from food safety issues in August, when 64 customers were afflicted with Salmonella in Minnesota, and around 100 people were affected by norovirus in Southern California.
In October and November, an E. coli outbreak affected 53 customers in 9 states.
Following these incidents, in December, a norovirus outbreak occurred in the Cleveland Circle location that affected around 140 Boston College students, and a new E. coli infection emerged that affected five people in three states.
The Cleveland Circle location officially reopened in late December after an inspection found a few violations, including a sick employee who came into work on Dec. 3. Follow-up tests during the week of Dec. 20 found that all employees were virus free.
The incidences significantly impacted Chipotle’s reputation, with countless customers suing Chipotle and the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations subpoenaing the company. Overall, the company estimates a projected loss of $14 million to $16 million.
“We know that Chipotle is as safe as it’s ever been before,” stated CEO Steve Ells at a conference on Jan. 13. Ells is hopeful that the CDC will soon declare the outbreak over.
Since the last E. coli outbreak in December, Chipotle has been serving a million customers a day “without incident,” according to spokesman Chris Arnold.