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Customer Vomit Makes Chipotle’s Stock Plummet

July 18, 2017, 4:40 PM UTC

Just when it seemed Chipotle had moved past its reputation as a breeding ground for foodborne illnesses, there are reports of another outbreak.

On Tuesday, a Chipotle franchise in Sterling, Virginia was closed over reports that customers were experiencing vomiting, stomach pains, and diarrhea shortly after eating at the location.

“We are aware of a small number of reported illnesses isolated to a single restaurant in Sterling, Virginia on Tripleseven Road, and have notified local health department officials,” Jim Marsden, Chipotle’s executive director, food safety said in an emailed statement. “We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.”

The company’s stock was down as much as 7% following the news.

The incident feels like a flashback to 2015, when the Denver-based chain was besieged with foodborne illness outbreaks (including E.coli, salmonella, and norovirus) at locations across the country.

In response, the company overhauled its food safety standards.

It also launched an aggressive, expensive marketing campaign to back in customers’ good graces (by, among other strategies, bribing them with free burritos).

“The reported symptoms are consistent with norovirus,” Marsden said. “Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle.”

That’s probably not a stipulation the company wants to have to make again.

Marsden said the affected store would likely reopen later today.