Chipotle stock prices fell to an all-time low today following yet another food contamination scare.
The Mexican food chain has closed one of its Virginia restaurants due to reports of a norovirus outbreak. In total, eight people filed complaints through the website iwaspoisoned.com. Their symptoms included: diarrhea, dehydration, gastrointestinal pain, nausea, and vomiting. One person claimed being hospitalized twice as a result of the alleged food poisoning.
“We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” said Jim Marsden, executive director of food safety at Chipotle. “The reported symptoms are consistent with norovirus. Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle.”
But despite Marsden’s claim that it is perfectly safe to eat at Chipotle, consumers (along with investors) just aren’t buying it. According to Reuters, Chipotle’s stock fell as low as $362.51 today.
At one point, Chipotle’s stocks were so strong that they were trading at nearly $750. But that was prior to the E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus outbreaks that plagued the company in 2015.
According to Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold, the restaurant chain will reopen its Sterling, Virginia location today. Arnold assured the public that the restaurant underwent a thorough sterilization process following reports of the outbreak.
Victor Avitto, environmental health supervisor for the Loudoun County Public Health Department, did confirm that Chipotle voluntarily closed the location shortly after the complaints surfaced. Avitto also said that the Loudoun County Public Health Department conducted an investigation, with test results expected later this week.
As far as the market is concerned, this could very well be the end of the line for Chipotle. The eatery never fully recovered from its disastrous 2015 outbreaks. Add this report on top of it, and it’s looking like Chipotle just can’t fix its tarnished image.