Back to burritos: Chipotle-linked E. coli outbreak over, CDC says
The CDC declared on Monday that the Chipotle Mexican Grill E. coli outbreak appears to be over.
Chipotle, under scrutiny for months over outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to its restaurants across several U.S. states, may have rattled investors, but teen and young adult customers were not deterred from the fast casual chain, according to the NPD Group, which continually tracks consumer's awareness about food safety outbreaks.
"Young adults represent the largest share of Chipotle's overall traffic," Bonnie Riggs, NPD Group's restaurant industry analyst, said in a statement. "Their willingness to overlook any food safety concerns to eat at Chipotle could be a result of unabashed loyalty or lack of awareness."
"What our research tells us is that Chipotle has a strong loyal base from which to build its business back up relatively quickly," says Riggs. "To win back the trust of their former customers, Chipotle will need to continually communicate all of the ways in which they are preventing any future outbreaks and prove to them that they able to deliver on their 'food with integrity' promise."
The fast casual chain will be briefly closing all its stores on Feb. 8th.
"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," Chris Arnold, a spokesman, told CNBC.
The company's sales plunged 30 percent in December, following at least six outbreaks tied to Chipotle in the last year, including norovirus, E. coli and salmonella.
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Look back at the Chipotle closings around the country: