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Chipotle subpoenaed in California norovirus outbreak

By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Jan. 6, 2016 at 12:33 PM

DENVER, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Chipotle Mexican Grill announced Wednesday it received a federal grand jury subpoena as part of a criminal investigation into a norovirus outbreak at one of its California restaurants.

In an 8K filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which demands business information of interest to stockholders or the SEC, the Denver-based company said it would comply with a request to hand over documents pertinent to its Simi Valley, Calif., location, site of a norovirus outbreak in August 2015. The subpoena was issued by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California as part of an inquiry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations.

The beleaguered company endured a salmonella outbreak in August 2015 which infected 64 patrons of a Minnesota location, followed by the Simi Valley norovirus outbreak, which struck about 100 restaurant patrons. In October and November an E. coli outbreak affected 53 customers in nine states. In December, about 140 Chipotle customers in Boston were infected with norovirus, and five more customers in three states were hit with norovirus, which can be spread by contaminated food or water and causes stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting in victims.

The company predicted a 14.6 percent drop in sales in the last quarter of 2015, saying that between $14 million and $16 million will be spent in response to the various contamination issues.

Chipotle stock had been trading at $700 per share in the summer. Its price was $433 per share in trading Wednesday.

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