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Norovirus Outbreak Hits Virginia Chipotle Restaurant
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Summary: A Virginia Chipotle store had a norovirus outbreak recently.

Just when you thought it was safe to eat a Chipotle burrito, a Virginia store reportedly had another foodborne illness problem. According to Buzzfeed, “Chipotle has been hit with reports of customers getting sick in Virginia just as the company was starting to pull out of a long sales slump that began in 2015, when it was linked to a series of foodborne illness outbreaks.”

  
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So far, 13 people reported online that they were food poisoned, Business Insider said.

While the company stated that the reported outbreak is isolated to one location in Sterling, Virginia, the news is similar to previous reports of food poisoning that had occurred years ago and had hospitalized many.

The Virginia diners exhibited symptoms of the norovirus, a contagious virus spread through fecal matter. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the leading cause of illness from contaminated food as workers who do not wash their hands spread the disease to consumers.

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A spokesman from Chipotle released a statement that it was safe to eat at the chain and the outbreak was consistent with norovirus, which does not come from the company food supply.

“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. We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. The reported symptoms are consistent with norovirus. Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle. We plan to reopen the restaurant today,” Chipotle’s statement said.



One report came from a parent who said that he and his son had experienced “violent stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting” after eating at Chipotle.

On Monday, the Sterling restaurant closed, and news of the outbreak caused the Chipotle stock to plummet by 7% on Tuesday. This follows a recovery from earlier this year after Chipotle stock dipped significantly in 2016 due to an E.Coli outbreak across the country.

“On the surface, norovirus at a single location is not overly significant,” BMO Capital Markets’ Andrew Strelzik said to Fortune. “That said, customers’ psyche likely remained fragile and we believe there is a reasonable probability that media coverage of the new illnesses will outweigh the actual severity of the incident and create renewed [sales] weakness.”

In 2015, a food safety expert told Buzzfeed that the number of food safety issues at Chipotle was “unusual.”

“Having three outbreaks over the course of two to three months is highly unusual,” food poisoning attorney Bill Marler said. “I think corporate leadership needs to step back at look at their food safety culture.”

So far, none of the norovirus victims in Virginia have filed a lawsuit, but the burrito chain was hit with several after its previous outbreaks.

What do you think of Chipotle? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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