The past couple of years have been tough on Chipotle, after two of the fast food chain’s restaurants had an E. coli outbreak, prompting an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC’s investigation could not identify the ingredients that caused the outbreak, though Chipotle believed it was “most likely from contaminated Australian beef”. Since then, the Denver company took a number of important steps to rectify its shortcomings, including moving some of its food preparation to its central kitchens and adopting a paid sick leave policy for its employees.
It seems that those moves have helped the company regain some lost consumer trust; the company’s shares soared today as it announced its quarterly profits. Unfortunately, Chipotle also reported some bad news.
In a statement to its investors, the company announced that it had “detected unauthorized activity on the network that supports [its] payment processing”, and that it’s investigating all credit card transactions made between March 24 and April 18 this year.
Chipotle is being helped by “leading cyber security firms, law enforcement, and [its] payment processor” in its investigation, and believes that it has stopped the unauthorized activity, along with implementing some additional security enhancements.
At an investor presentation, Chipotle’s Chief Financial Officer Jack Hartung said that the company anticipates “notifying any affected customers as we get further clarity about the time frames and restaurant locations that might have been affected”. However, for now, it has set up a dedicated page to provide customers with updates regarding the ongoing investigation.
Chipotle is certainly recovering from the damage, but regaining consumer trust may prove difficult if preventable incidents such as these keep dulling any progress.