July 15, 2024

Chipotle in MA Closes Because of Norovirus

A Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Billerica, Massachusetts was closed today because an employee tested positive for norovirus. A spokesman for the restaurant said that four of their employees were feeling sick, so the facility closed for a “full sanitization.” The statement from Chipotle added that “no customers’ illnesses are connected to this restaurant.” They added that any sick employees should not come to work until they are well.

Chipotle Mexican GrillChipotle was the center of five food poisoning outbreaks last year; two were for E. coli, one for Salmonella, and two for norovirus. And the restaurant chain is facing many civil lawsuits filed by outbreak victims, as well as a lawsuit from stockholders, who claim that Chipotle made false and/or misleading statements and violated the Securities Exchange Act. In addition, the chain was served with a federal subpoena as part of a criminal investigation into the California norovirus outbreak.

The first Chipotle E. coli O26 outbreak affected people in nine states which began in October 2015 and was declared over in February 2016. At least 55 people were sickened in that outbreak, which was in the states of California, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. The second E. coli O26 outbreak was located in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska and sickened five people. The source for those outbreaks was not uncovered.

Salmonella Newport outbreak in Minnesota in August and September 2015 sickened at least 64 people. The source for that outbreak was fresh tomatoes used in salsa and salads.

norovirus outbreak at one of the chain’s Boston locations that sickened 151 students at Boston College in December 2015. And a norovirus outbreak in Simi Valley, California sickened at least 234 people. The source for that outbreak was an ill employee.

Inspections of Chipotle restaurants revealed many problems, including one at the Simi Valley location that took place after cleaning. Inspectors noted dirty restrooms, unsanitary walls, floors, and ceilings, unclean equipment and improperly maintained equipment, and workers without valid food handler cards. The chain closed in February for a company-wide meeting, and vowed to improve its food handling methods.


  1. Tami K. Hastings says

    The instructions to sick employees, especially with a Norovirus diagnosis, to “not come to work until they are well” is careless advice. Employees must stay away from the kitchen until 48 – 72 hours after their last symptom, because they are still contagious. I had to close a nursing home kitchen, because there were not enough well employees to work in the kitchen. That is a very serious action that I do not take lightly. All kitchen employees should read and sign the FDA Form 1-B upon hire. This form advises kitchen employees of the foodborne illnesses and symptoms that they must report to the Person In Charge or face the consequences if they spread illnesses to the customers.

    • Linda Larsen says

      I agree. We don’t know what the specific company policy is, but most people don’t know that people who are sick are contagious after symptoms disappear.

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