Chipotle shares jump as CEO apologizes over illnesses, vows change
By Susan Heavey and Subrat Patnaik
(Reuters) - Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc jumped more than 5 percent on Thursday after its founder apologized to patrons who fell ill after eating at the company's restaurants and pledged that strict new food-safety practices would prevent future outbreaks.
"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," founder and co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Ells said in an interview on NBC.
As of Thursday, Boston Public Health Commission reported that 91 people had been sickened by norovirus linked to a Chipotle restaurant in Boston, in the latest wave of patrons who have fallen ill on the heels of another outbreak in the Northwestern United States.
As many as 141 students had reported to Boston College Health Services with symptoms of norovirus after eating at a Chipotle restaurant last weekend, Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn said in an email.
Dunn said 12 other students, who had not eaten at Chipotle, also showed symptoms of being infected by norovirus and had reported to the college's health authorities.
There are no other pathogens present in the specimens tested so far and the illness on the university campus is expected to be limited to norovirus, Dunn cited the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as saying.
The findings appear separate from a spate of E. coli infections in recent months that has sickened 52 people in nine states and forced the company to temporarily close some locations.
Shares of Chipotle were up 4.4 percent at $572.43 in afternoon trading on Thursday. Continued...