Chipotle’s troubles are continuing, with 30 Boston College students falling ill over the weekend after eating at a Chipotle restaurant in Boston’s Cleveland Circle, a Boston College spokesman said. The sick group of students includes members of the men’s basketball team, according to Reuters which reported on the story Monday (Dec. 7).
In an emailed statement, Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold emphasized that health officials haven’t yet confirmed the Boston College cases are connected to E. coli cases that have flared at others Chipotle restaurants in recent weeks, disrupting sales and forcing the closure of dozens of Chipotle restaurants.
“The safety and well being of our customers is always our highest priority, so our restaurant at Cleveland Circle in Boston is temporarily closed while we work with local health officials to investigate a number of illnesses among Boston College students,” Arnold said. “We do not have any evidence to suggest that this incident is related the previous E. coli incident. There are no confirmed cases of E. coli connected to Chipotle in Massachusetts.”
Should those 30 new illnesses be linked officially to Chipotle, it would drastically add to the food safety woes that are already wreaking havoc on Chipotle’s operations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that 52 people infected with E. coli had been reported in nine states (Massachusetts wasn’t among them), of which 47 said they ate at Chipotle in the week before their symptoms appeared. The CDC so far hasn’t identified what Chipotle meal item or ingredient is most likely causing the outbreak.
On Friday Chipotle warned in a SEC filing that if current trends continue, same-store sales could be down between 8% and 11% compared to the prior year. It also warned: “Future sales trends may be significantly influenced by further developments, including potential additional announcements from federal and state health authorities.”
For context, in the nine months ending in September, same-store sales had increased 5.5% year-over-year.
Chipotle’s stock, which closed down 1.7% on Monday, was down more than 3% after the open of trading on Tuesday. The stock is down more than 25% since the end of the third quarter.