Every Chipotle in the U.S. will close for several hours Monday, Feb. 8 for a national food safety meeting. The meeting comes as a result of outbreaks of Salmonella, E. coli and norovirus that plagued the popular fast-casual chain at the end of 2015.
A customer service coordinator from Chipotle told Eagle News in an email that all Chipotle restaurants will be closed for lunch and re-opened at 3 p.m. in each time zone for the meeting.
“We are hosting a national team meeting on Monday, Feb. 8 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,” the coordinator said.
In August, 64 Chipotle customers in Minnesota were infected with Salmonella, which is commonly spread through food contaminated with feces. Contamination can occur when meat comes into contact with feces or when vegetables come into contact with raw meat juices or are washed improperly when they are harvested.
A 100-person norovirus outbreak in southern California was also linked to a Chipotle in August. The norovirus is a highly contagious virus that is spread most commonly through food.
Between November and December, 58 Chipotle customers across several states were infected with E. coli, and 140 people, many of them students, were infected with the norovirus from a Boston location.
In an apology letter that ran in 61 newspapers Dec. 16, Chipotle founder and Co-CEO Steve Ells discussed changes to the chain’s food safety procedures.
The changes will include the testing of many ingredients throughout the journey from “farm-to-fork,” discussing ways that suppliers can improve their own food safety programs, using more sanitation processes at the restaurants.
“In the end,” the apology reads, “it may not be possible for anyone to completely eliminate all risk with regard to food (or from any environment where people congregate), but we are confident that we can achieve near zero risk.”