Chipotle’s stock has taken a hit this week following foodborne illness issues at a restaurant in Virginia and a report of rodents scurrying around one of their restaurants in Texas.
Chipotle executives told Business Insider that the chain temporarily closed a restaurant in Sterling, Va., after a small number of customers reported symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, dehydration and nausea.
Chipotle said they are aware of the issue, and communicated with local health officials in Virginia. The restaurant was closed for a “thorough sanitization,” the restaurant chain said, and it has now reopened. Chipotle officials said the reported symptoms were consistent with norovirus, a common cause of viral gastroenteritis.
Signs and symptoms of norovirus usually begin within 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus, according to the Mayo Clinic. Norovirus can be spread through contaminated food or water or an infected person. The virus can cause diarrhea, throwing up and stomach pain.
This isn’t the first time Chipotle has had issues with food-related illnesses. The company was hit by multiple outbreaks of E. coli in 2015, causing hundreds of customers to get sick.
The Dayton Daily News has taken a look at recent inspection reports by the Dayton-Montgomery County Public Health at Chipotle, and found some restaurants had multiple customer complaints at locations nationwide.
Locally complaints of food-borne illnesses or cleanliness go to local health departments, which are responsible for inspecting local restaurants. Hundreds of complaints come in to local health departments every year; in 2016 the Dayton-Montgomery County Public Health Department received complaints involving 5 Chipotle restaurants.
Some local Chipotle complaints were:
1. CENTERVILLE CHIPOTLE - 1051 MIAMISBURG CENTERVILLE ROAD
In late May, health officials with the Dayton-Montgomery County Public Health inspected the restaurant after a customer issued a complaint to the local health department regarding a possible food borne illness. Health officials were told that no employees called off work sick or were sent home sick during the time of the alleged illness, and they were also informed that the facility did not receive any phone calls or other responses regarding ill customers, according to a health inspection report.
The restaurant staff was informed to ensure gloves and utensils are used to handle foods, and officials recommended that food temperatures be monitored multiple times everyday. No further action was required, according to the report.
2. DAYTON CHIPOTLE - 1211 BROWN ST.
A recent standard inspection by Dayton-Montgomery County Public Health officials found the overall operation of the restaurant was satisfactory, and food code updates were discussed during the inspection. Earlier in the year, the restaurant received a complaint about workers not wearing hair restraints. The issue was discussed with restaurant management and no further action was taken.
3. DAYTON CHIPOTLE - 9208 N. MAIN ST.
The restaurant received two complaints in 2016, according to Dayton-Montgomery County Public Health inspection reports. A customer was concerned with air vents leaking condensation into food items, and the restaurant explained they were working to repair a hood system to draw humid air out. They agreed to wipe off condensation to protect food items.
A complaint was also investigated last year about a bug found in a customer’s meal, but the past two months of pest control reports showed no signs of pest activity and no bugs were found during the inspection. No follow-up was needed, according to the report.
4. MIAMISBURG CHIPOTLE - 10671 INNOVATION DRIVE
The restaurant’s latest inspection report showed the operation is satisfactory, but the location had at least four reported complaints in 2016. A customer complained in April 2016 that they became ill after eating at the establishment, and management stated about three employees had been ill around the time of the incident.
The store was shut down and cleaned and food prepared by ill employees was discarded, according to health inspection reports. Multiple inspections were completed by state officials following the incident, and performance was satisfactory.
5. BEAVERCREEK CHIPOTLE - 4472 WALNUT ST.
The restaurant had at least two reported complaints this year, and an inspection found “critical violations” in January. The person in charge failed to ensure employees of their responsibility to report information about their health as it relates to illnesses that could impact the food being served.
Employees were also found eating and drinking from open cups in the work areas. Guacamole was prepared and not checked for temperature prior to placing in walk-cooler, according to Greene County health inspection reports. New rules were discussed with management, according to the last report filed in January.
Chipotle officials said the restaurant chain has hired a food safety expert, Dr. Jim Marsden, to oversee all aspects of its food safety program. Chipotle has also implemented new food safety protocols in all restaurants. Nearly all Chipotle locations are company-owned.
“We are sorry that individuals reported sickness from one of our locations. The safety and well-being of our customers is always our top priority. Our Sterling, VA, restaurant has reopened for business,” said Steve Ells, Chipotle CEO. “We believe these advancements, among others, have put us at the top of our industry as we continually strive to find new and innovative ways to ensure that our restaurants are safe. We know that maintaining the highest level of safety in all of our restaurants is our responsibility. I made a commitment on behalf of Chipotle to make our restaurants the safest place to eat, and I am confident in the programs and procedures we have implemented.”
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