Chipotle Mexican Grill closes restaurant after customer illnesses in Ohio

Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill fell more than 5 percent Tuesday on news that the burrito chain closed a restaurant in Ohio following reports of customers becoming ill after eating there.

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Last Updated Aug 1, 2018 4:25 AM EDT

Chipotle Mexican Grill closed a restaurant in Ohio after reports of customers becoming ill after eating there -- and the news sent shares down more than 7 percent by Tuesday afternoon.

Local health officials said they were investigating "several possible food-borne illness reports," and urged anyone who ate at the restaurant between Thursday and Monday and experiencing symptoms such as vomiting to report it. Delaware County, Ohio, where Powell is located, tweeted about the situation:

The burrito chain, which has struggled to restore customer trust after a slew of high-profile safety scares, made the move after multiple people reportedly had taken ill as of Tuesday morning, with the reports coming from Iwaspoisoned.com, a website that consumers use to file complaints of what they believe to be foodborne illness.

Chipotle issued a statement saying, "We are cooperating with the local health department and the Chipotle restaurant in Powell, OH has reopened. We acted quickly and closed this single restaurant out of an abundance of caution yesterday and we've implemented our food safety response protocols that includes a total replacement of all food inventory and complete cleaning and sanitation of the restaurant."

A customer who claims he got sick after eating at the Powell Chipotle  is suing, seeking more than $250,000 in total damages from several defendants. The suit asserts some 200 people reported falling ill after eating there.

Food safety is an especially sensitive topic at Chipotle which found its brand and stock price battered by a string of lapses in 2015 that included a norovirus outbreak that sickened more than 100 patrons in Boston. Separately, an E. coli outbreak that fall forced the temporary closure of more than 40 restaurants in Oregon and Washington.

Chipotle (CMG) has been making a comeback in recent months, even celebrating National Avocado Day on Tuesday with free guacamole on an entree or as a side order with online or mobile app orders. But its once high-flying stocks is still down about 40 percent from its August 2015 peak of $758. On Tuesday, shares of Chipotle were down more than 7 percent, to around $432, in afternoon trading.

Last summer Chipotle retrained kitchen workers on food-safety issues after identifying a sick employee as causing a norovirus outbreak that prompted the brief closure of a restaurant in Virginia. A sick worker was also believed to be the cause of the Boston outbreak.