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Just as Chipotle Comes Back from Its E.Coli Meltdown, It Has Yet Another Food Safety Scare

August 1, 2018, 10:27 AM UTC

It was a rough National Avocado Day for Chipotle (CMG). Not only were its servers overloaded with customers’ requests for free guacamole, it yet again faced scrutiny about its food safety.

Reports of food poisoning led a Chipotle restaurant near Columbus, Ohio, to close entirely on Monday. The Delaware County health department received hundreds of calls complaining of symptoms attributed to eating at the restaurant. The department inspected the restaurant Tuesday and gave it the green light to reopen, but noted that it is continuing an investigation of a possible foodborne illness, with stool sample kits given to 33 residents with symptoms.

The health department wrote on its Facebook page: “If you consumed food from Chipotle at 9733 Sawmill Parkway between Thursday, July 26, and Monday, July 30, and have experienced symptoms of nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, please call 740-368-1700 and ask to speak to a member of the communicable disease team.”

A Chipotle spokeswoman told CNBC: “We acted quickly and closed this single restaurant out of an abundance of caution and we are working with the local health officials to reopen this restaurant as soon as possible.”

In 2015, Chipotle’s business nearly dried up after an E.coli outbreak that spanned 11 states, leading the company to undertake a chain-wide safety retraining in early 2016 that closed all 2,000 of its stores for a day.

The popular Mexican fast casual chain was hoping its new CEO would right the ship. In his first five months, Brian Niccol has stuck to what the chain does best while putting more emphasis on marketing, bringing in Chris Brandt as his CMO. The two had previously successfully revived Taco Bell at Yum Brands (YUM).

Chipotle’s same-store sales in the second quarter rose 3.3%, beating Wall Street expectations for 2.7%, according to Consensus Metrix, and the chain also raised its full year sales forecast slightly.