Friday, January 15, 2016

Chipotle to close all 1,900 stores, but just briefly

Consumers who have been patronizing Chipotle restaurants despite a rash of food poisonings at some of its West Coast and Boston locations will be forced to stay away -- at least for part of one day.

That's because the Denver-based chain today announced it plans to close all 1,900 of its locations for an unspecified period on Monday, February 8, for a companywide meeting on food safety.

Corporate spokesman Chris Arnold explained, "We are hosting a national team meeting to thank our employees for their hard work through this difficult time, discuss some of the food safety changes we are implementing, and answer questions from employees."

Since the fall's multiple E.coli and norovirus outbreaks were reported, Chipotle's sales have fallen precipitously, off 30% chainwide. One of the norovirus outbreaks is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations.

Company officials recently announced the start of implementation of new safety measures to ensure food safety and handling. They include DNA-based testing of fresh produce, end-of-shelf-life testing to ensure ingredients are safe throughout their shelf life, and improvements in its supply chain to measure performance data of vendors and suppliers, and enhancing employee training in food safety and handling. The February 8 meeting will emphasize the latter step.

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