Chipotle CEO Steve Ells offered an apology on Thursday to the customers who became sick after eating at Chipotle establishments. The CEO promised that stronger food safety practices would soon be put into place in order to prevent any future outbreaks. Following the announcement, the price of Chipotle stock soared.
Ells said in a television interview, “This was a very unfortunate incident and I'm deeply sorry that this happened, but the procedures we're putting in place today are so above industry norms that we are going to be the safest place to eat.”
The comments from Ells come one day after health officials reported that 80 people in Boston became sick because of a norovirus that was linked to a Chipotle restaurant. The incident represented the latest wave of Chipotle patrons who became ill after eating at the franchise.
It is believed that the case in Boston was completely separate from the E. coli infections that affected 52 people in nine different states. These outbreaks forced the company to temporarily close some of its locations.
The E. coli incident represented the restaurant chain’s third food major food safety violation since August. In recent months, Chipotle has received heavy amounts of scrutiny from health officials.
Many investors are worried that these illnesses have caused permanent damage to Chipotle’s reputation. The chain guarantees fresh ingredients that are free of genetically modified organisms. Shares for the company have been in decline since August.
However, Ells believes that the company can fully recover from these incidents. Since making his comments on television, shares of Chipotle have increased in value by 3.6%. Chipotle stock is down about 20% on the year.
As for the restaurant in Boston, Ells has said that it will be reopened after it is completely sanitized and all of its employees are tested for norovirus. The virus is highly contagious, and it can be spread through contaminated food and surfaces.
Chipotle has still not discovered the source of its E. coli outbreak. The bacteria can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting.