(Mirror Daily, United States) – One crisis after another for the Mexican restaurant chain, and now feds have started to investigate Chipotle on the norovirus outbreak that allegedly left 300 people sick. It seems the company cannot catch a break. One outbreak after another could now lead to actual criminal charges.
Popular Mexican food chain Chipotle has been a favorite for a long time. However, starting last year, it seems that they have been battling problems left and right. It started with E. coli outbreaks, moving on to salmonella, and now norovirus is also threatening their future. Due to the accusations, Chipotle saw to a 43% drop in stock price and their sales to decline by 30% in their restaurants just last month.
Now, the investigation has taken a drastic turn.
The Mexican food restaurant chain has been slapped with a subpoena. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in California will be asking and rummaging through “a broad range of documents”. Anything that will be incriminating and prove that the outbreaks could’ve been avoided or even known of might tip the scale further against Chipotle.
This is a rare instance in history. While there are numerous cases brought against the food industry, it’s not common that one single restaurant would be the center of negative attention. Typically, such lawsuits are focused on major food processors. However, it seems Chipotle has even surpassed its three strikes, and is now under scrutinizing attention.
What’s the worst case scenario for Chipotle? According to Bill Marler, who is one of the top food poisoning attorney in the U.S., prosecutors will have to prove that Chipotle executives purposefully allowed affected products to be served for a felony charge. That would mean serious consequences for the restaurant chain that they can likely ill afford.
For a misdemeanor though, the prosecutors only need to show that the executives could be held responsible and that there was a way to prevent the outbreaks, even if they were unaware of it. That’s manageable through proper sanitation, good conditions for sick employees, and care of their products.
According to Marler, it could be that Chipotle just had a streak of “bad luck”, and that would be that. But, it’s also possible that the restaurant chain was also too focused on high growth and clung to their ‘non-GMO, all natural food’ label that they disregarded food safety. Other major chains, such as McDonald’s, cannot afford to be sloppy since they are already under the radar for serving unhealthy food. Chipotle could’ve gotten too comfortable and reckless.
It remains to be seen if the prosecutors will be able to find any incriminating evidence. And after, if Chipotle could even pass the crisis and survive in the industry.
According to marketing experts, the Mexican food restaurant change could bounce back. With proper damage control, a flawless operation from now on, confidence that their issues have been fixed, and a firm ‘mea culpa’ approach could bring them back on the market. It’s believed the company has gathered enough good will from their customers, and that will help them recover.
However, that’s apparently a year away. It will take hard work, dedication, and time if Chipotle wants to win back the hearts of their clients and investors.
Image source: pymnts.com
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