Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. closed a restaurant in Virginia because of a suspected norovirus outbreak among some diners, sending its shares lower on July 18.
Investors are keenly sensitive to food-safety issues at Chipotle, which is still working to recover fully from a string of sales-crushing E. coli, Salmonella, and norovirus outbreaks in late 2015.
Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said on July 18 the reported symptoms were consistent with norovirus, a highly contagious virus that can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea. “We plan to reopen the restaurant today,” Arnold said.
The suspected illnesses were first reported by Business Insider. It cited information from iwaspoisoned.com, a website on which consumers document what they believe are incidents of foodborne illness.
“In total, eight reports were made to the website, indicating that at least 13 customers fell sick after eating there from July 14-15,” the news site said.
Chipotle voluntarily closed the restaurant on July 17, said Victor Avitto, environmental health supervisor for the Loudoun County Public Health Department, which has jurisdiction over the restaurant on Tripleseven Road in Sterling. Test results are expected later this week, Avitto said.
Norovirus, known as the “winter vomiting bug,” is the leading cause of illness and outbreaks from contaminated food in the U.S., according to the CDC. It can spread from person to person, as well as through food prepared by an infected person. It often hits closed environments such as daycare centers, schools, and cruise ships. Most outbreaks happen from November to April in the U.S.
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