Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has agreed to pay $25 million to settle criminal charges stemming from foodborne illness outbreaks at restaurants in four states, causing more than 1,100 people to get sick between 2015 and 2018.
“Today’s steep penalty, coupled with the tens of millions of dollars Chipotle already has spent to upgrade its food safety program since 2015, should result in greater protections for Chipotle customers and remind others in the industry to review and improve their own health and safety practices,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna for the Central District of California said in a statement released Tuesday by the Justice Department.
One incident at a Boston restaurant in 2015 sickened 141 people with the norovirus after a sick employee was ordered to keep working after vomiting at the establishment, the department said. That employee helped fulfill a large order for a local college basketball team, spreading the virus to players.
Chipotle says it has overhauled its food safety policies.
“This settlement represents an acknowledgment of how seriously Chipotle takes food safety every day and is an opportunity to definitively turn the page on past events and focus on serving our customers real food made with real ingredients that they can enjoy with confidence,” said Brian Niccol, Chairman and CEO of the company.
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