Chipotle to shut down stores for food safety meeting

Chipotle, Food Safety, Closure
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Chipotle will shut down all of its stores for a food safety meeting next month as federal health officials continued to investigate multiple outbreaks stemming from the company.

The company-wide closure — if only just for a few hours — is Chipotle's most extreme action since August, when the first of multiple foodbourne outbreaks was reported at its stores.

Chris Arnold, the company's spokesman, told The Oregonian that the company would “discuss some of the changes we are making to enhance food safety” and “to talk about the restaurant’s role in all of that.”

The first outbreak at a Chipotle restaurant was reported in Minnesota last August, when more than 60 people became infected with Salmonella. That same month, 100 people reported norovirus after eating at a California branch of the chain.

Since then, the company has battled an E.coli outbreak among 53 people in nine states and another bout of norovirus that infected more than 140 students at Boston College.

Federal investigators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say they do not know “what specific food” is linked to the illness, according to its website.

The company has scrambled for a response as its stocks have tumbled more than 30 percent in the last three months.

In October, the company launched an “enhanced food safety program” that involved a “comprehensive reassessment” of its practices and its ingredients, according to a December statement.

The company has projected an 8 percent decline for the fourth quarter — figures that it will release on Feb. 2.