Chipotle CEO makes apology, pledges changes via TV interview

Steve Ells was confident the chain could recover, both in terms of its image and financially.

Shares of Chipotle bounced back on Thursday after its founder, co-CEO Steve Ells, apologized to all customers who fell ill after eating in its restaurants and promised to enforce strict new food-safety practices.

"We’re doing a lot to rectify this and make sure this doesn’t happen again," Ells said in an interview on NBC Thursday morning. He also mentioned hiring a team of epidemiologists to put Chipotle 10 to 15 years ahead of the norm when it comes to restaurant food safety.

The remarks came after more than 140 Boston College students have been diagnosed with norovirus after eating in Chipotle restaurants. This incident came on the heels of an E. coli outbreak in October that led to the temporary closure of 43 Chipotle locations in the Pacific Northwest.

The string of health concerns related to food-borne illnesses juxtaposes the image presented by the fast-food chain earlier this year. Not long ago, the burrito brand touted that it would no longer use any ingredients with GMOs and pledged a commitment to antibiotic-free meats and organic produce.

Chipotle’s shares have fallen between 11% and 12% since October, according to CNBC. Investors have speculated the company may raise its prices to make up for losses in 2016.

However, Ells was confident that, financially and image-wise, the company will recover.

"If there is a silver lining in this, it’s that we’ve looked at every single ingredient that we use at Chipotle, and we use 64 ingredients at Chipotle," he noted.

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