January 6, 2016 — Chipotle has been subpoenaed in a federal criminal investigation over its handling of a food poisoning outbreak in California.
The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California in conjunction with the FDA, according to a securities filling.
The Grand Jury Subpoena was received last month and orders Chipotle to produce a broad range of documents linked to a Norovirus outbreak at a restaurant in Simi Valley, California. The outbreak occurred in August 2015 and sickened at least 80 customers and 18 employees.
In the filling, Chipotle called the norovirus outbreak “isolated,” but another norovirus outbreak in December sickened about 120 students from Boston College who ate at a Chipotle restaurant near campus.
Chipotle also voluntarily closed 43 restaurants in Washington and Oregon due to an outbreak of E. coli. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has investigated two separate E. coli outbreaks that have sickened about 60 people in twelve states.
Another 64 people were infected with Salmonella after eating at Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota between August and September 2015. Health officials said the outbreak was linked to tomatoes.
Chipotle said future sales trends may be “significantly influenced by further developments.” In December, same-store sales plunged 30%, marking the first decline since the company went public in 2006.
The outbreaks have battered the restaurant’s image as fresh and healthy fast food. Chipotle said it intends to fully cooperate with the investigation. The company has also vowed to improve food safety and taken out full-page ads in dozens of newspapers to apologize to customers.
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