- Sections :
- Crime & Public Safety
- Local Area
CONROE, Texas - As the Conroe lunch hour crowd seeks nourishment, they'll find the Chipotle restaurant located at 1301 W Davis Street closed. The fast-casual Mexican food chain, is closed until 3 p.m., for a companywide safety briefing after outbreaks of norovirus and E. coli sickened customers last year.
Approximately 50,000 employees are expected to attend the company meeting nationwide, by gathering in areas such as hotel conference rooms and movie theaters, to hear broadcast remarks from executives.
Employees may finally get an explanation from Chipotle regarding how E. coli and norovirus outbreaks occurred at its restaurants last year. Executives have promised to overhaul the company's food-safety standards.
In October, people who had eaten at Chipotle restaurants started showing symptoms of E. coli, an outbreak that eventually affected more than 50 people in 11 states. An outbreak of a different strain of E. coli then affected five more people in December. Later in the month more than 120 people contracted norovirus from a Boston Chipotle restaurant.
For months Chipotle has been diligently working to trace the source of the illnesses. Local sourcing of products could be the assignable cause, as Chipotle also investigates the food handling methods of suppliers.
A federal investigation into the E. coli outbreak was officially closed last week when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that it appears to be over. No new cases have been reported since Dec. 21. Investigators were unable to determine what food caused it. Meanwhile, Chipotle is still under a criminal investigation for a norovirus incident at a California store in August.
Sales and traffic at the Chipotle restaurants plummeted in the fourth quarter, and the company's stock price dropped dramatically. Shares are down about 2.4% in late-morning trading Monday, February 8. A major marketing campaign starts this month to win back customers who were scared away. But Chipotle has competition. Several other chains are taking advantage of the company's temporary store closures by offering discounts to lure away customers.