Live

Watch CBSN Live

Chipotle under scrutiny after reports of sick workers

Copper mug warning

A Chipotle (CMG) restaurant in Los Angeles is receiving scrutiny from health officials after the burrito chain reported that some of its workers were ill with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The company is struggling to win back customers after previous food safety issues.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold confirmed Wednesday that the company had reported the illnesses to local health officials and said the employees are being held out of work. The restaurant was inspected Tuesday and remains open for business, Arnold said.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said it did not receive any reports from other Chipotle locations and it is working to determine the cause of illness. Chipotle said it is aware of only a few reports of customer illnesses from "user-generated reporting sites."

"We take any report of illness very seriously," the company said in an emailed statement to CBS News. "As a precautionary measure, we have implemented heightened preventative procedures at this restaurant, which we do as a matter of policy if we ever receive reports of illness (even if they are not substantiated)."

It added, "Local health officials inspected the restaurant yesterday and were pleased with our operations."

Family's heartbreaking battle with E. coli

A series of food safety scares has proved daunting to overcome for the Mexican-food chain. The restaurant company reported disappointing third-quarter results in October, with CEO Steve Ellis describing the year as "challenging."

Chipotle Mexican Grill has been working to convince customers it has overcome food safety issues since since 2015, when consumers avoided its stores following an E. coli outbreak. It faced new headwinds last summer after one of its restaurants in Virginia was temporarily closed after dozens of diners fell ill.

The company said afterward it believed an employee was working while sick with what health officials think was norovirus, a leading cause of illnesses from contaminated food.

Shares in Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. fell nearly 5 percent to close at $298.67 on Wednesday. That's less than half of what they were at their 2015 peak, before the E. coli outbreak.