Posted January 7, 2013

On Wednesday, in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC),Chipotle Mexican Grille Inc. announced it was served with a criminal subpoena in December 2015. The subpoena is part of an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations. The restaurant chain must hand over documents pertaining to its restaurant in Simi Valley, California where a norovirus outbreak occurred in August 2015.  Chipotle also said in the filing that the incident was isolated and that it will cooperate fully with the federal investigation. Representatives for the U.S. Attorney’s office and the FDA did not comment.

The disclosure of the investigation comes as the company recovers from E. coli outbreaks in late October and November, which were followed by the sickening of customers at a restaurant in Boston in December. Those cases attracted significantly more national media attention than the California incident and Chipotle’s sales have dropped dramatically.

Sales fell almost 15 percent in the fourth quarter, marking the first decline for the company since it went public in 2006. Just last month, Chipotle retracted its forecast for 2016. In its regulatory filing Wednesday, the company said it could not predict the amount of any fines or penalties it may face in connection with the federal investigation.

Attempting to rehabilitate its image, Chipotle took out full-page ads apologizing to customers in newspapers around the country. It also vowed to increase food safety at its restaurants by changing cooking methods and further testing meat and produce.

Further information on the story is available here.