Feds Subpoena Chipotle in Norovirus Outbreak

Looks like that food poisoning in California is leading to all sorts of problems
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2016 12:00 PM CST
Feds Subpoena Chipotle in Norovirus Outbreak
A Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant is pictured on Dec. 15, 2015, in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Sickened customers and employees, bad publicity, and tumbling stock prices were apparently just the beginning of Chipotle's woes. Now the restaurant chain has been slapped with a federal subpoena as part of a criminal investigation into a food poisoning outbreak in August, the AP reports. The subpoena received in December mandates that Chipotle produce "a broad range of documents" in regard to a norovirus outbreak at its restaurant in Simi Valley, Calif., which Bloomberg notes sickened 234 customers and workers. In an SEC filing, Chipotle says the investigation is being performed by the US Attorney's Office for the Central District of California and the FDA. A food safety lawyer says that a criminal probe following such an outbreak isn't typical, and that the only reason the feds might get involved is if there were employment infractions.

This case isn't even the most publicized of Chipotle's recent health scares: A norovirus outbreak in Boston sickened more than 140 college students in late 2015, and an E. coli outbreak in nine states sickened more than 50, Bloomberg notes. The company's numbers are already hurting: Shares are down 37% over the past three months, per the Wall Street Journal, and Fox News reports that Chipotle predicts sales will fall 14.6% for 2015's fourth quarter—the first drop since the company went public in 2006. Chipotle says future sales could be "significantly influenced by further developments" and notes it will report sales for the quarter and full year on Feb. 2, per the Journal. A Chipotle rep tells the AP it will cooperate fully with the probe. (Here's how Chipotle is trying to fix its food issues.)

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