DENVER - Denver-based Chipotle is facing scrutiny after a widespread E. coli outbreak spanning six states. Now the company is dealing with a lawsuit and hits to its stock prices.
Chipotle temporarily closed stores in Washington and Oregon after the poisoning cases - a bold move by the corporate headquarters here in Colorado, since some of the restaurants closed didn't even serve the contaminated food.
"They're doing more than they have to do that's a sign of public confidence,” said Cliff Young of CU Denver’s business school. Young says Chipotle can reinvent itself, just like Tylenol did, when it created tamper-proof packaging after someone deliberately poisoned its pills in 1982.
"Assuming they can find the source and they can assure the public that will not happen again, they can actually come out of this better than they were before," said Young.
Chipotle isn't the first chain to deal with a food safety crisis.
In 1993, four children died, more than 700 people became sick after eating at Jack-in-the-Box restaurants. Yet the company recovered, in part because it hired a point-person to specifically deal with food safety.
Attorney Bill Marler represented victims in the Jack in the Box case, and now Chipotle. He is calling for even more transparency from the chain.
"They need to explain to the public, here's what we're doing and here are the results. It can't be I'm just going to do this. They have to show us that they're doing that."
While Chipotle’s stock has suffered, it can recover said Young, noting stock prices often fluctuate with consumer emotions.