A Los Angeles Chipotle restaurant is under scrutiny from health officials after the fast-casual establishment reported some of its workers became ill with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is currently investigating the company's employees with reported illnesses at the L.A. Chipotle located at 4550 West Pico Boulevard. The restaurant remains open; however, a spokesman for Chipotle stated sick employees had been out of work due to company policy, according to Bloomberg.
The county health department did not report any other illnesses from other Chipotle locations and is currently working to determine the cause of illness. As of yet, there was no immediate indication that the employees fell ill due to Chipotle food. Local health officials inspected the restaurant on Dec. 19, as a matter of company policy in cases of reported illnesses. A Chipotle spokesperson said the health officials were "pleased" with the restaurant's operations.
CEO Steve Ellis described this year as "challenging." The Mexican chain has struggled to win back customers after an E. coli outbreak in 2015 that affected customers across the U.S. Last summer, the chain saw sales plunge when a Chipotle in Virginia closed temporarily after dozens of diners fell ill with what health officials believed was norovirus, a leading cause of illnesses from contaminated food. Then again, the company briefly closed its doors at a Dallas location after several mice were caught on film falling from the ceiling during a lunch rush.
The latest reports of illness sent shares down nearly 5 percent on Dec. 20, less than half at their 2015 peak, prior to the E. coli outbreak. Bloomberg reports Chipotle's worst stock decline in two months. Chipotle had to deal with other issues aside from health scares, including a massive data breach that gave hackers authorized access to credit card information at nearly all of Chipotle's restaurants this year.
Chipotle recently tweaked its once-popular queso in an effort to use only real ingredients and no artificial additives, but poor customer feedback calling it "gritty" caused the company's efforts to flop, despite a December promotional giveaway that threw in free queso to customers wearing a "cheesy" holiday sweater.
CNN Money reports the company is seeking new leadership to quickly turn things around.