Dan Stamm

Chipotle Shares Dip Amid E. Coli Outbreak

Chipotle's stock edged lower in midday trading Tuesday as the Mexican food chain continues to deal with fallout from an E. coli outbreak and contends with weakening sales.

A national outbreak of E. coli has been linked to Denver-based Chipotle, which has said that it is adopting stricter food safety standards. On Monday 30 Boston College students, including at least eight members of the men's basketball team, complained of gastrointestinal symptoms after eating at a Chipotle restaurant.

On Tuesday, Boston College raised its estimate to 80.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. closed the restaurant in Boston's Cleveland Circle and said it thinks the illnesses are the result of an isolated incident of norovirus, not a multi-state outbreak of E. coli linked to its restaurants. That outbreak has sickened 52 people in nine states, with the most recent illness starting on November 13.

The university says all students who reported symptoms have been tested for both E. Coli and norovirus, and that results will not be available for at least two days.

Aside from the E. coli troubles, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has been experiencing a slowdown in its sales. Chipotle executives previously said that the chain's same-store sales growth would be more modest this year, as it's up against a tough year-ago comparison. The company is also raising prices to consumers to offset the higher cost of beef.

Shares of Chipotle fell $8.75, or 1.6 percent, to $543 in afternoon trading Tuesday. Its shares have fallen about 28 percent from their all-time high of $758.61 achieved in August.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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