Chipotle agrees to pay $25 million fine for norovirus outbreaks

Federal prosecutors called the penalty the "largest fine ever imposed in a food-safety case."
/ Source: NBC News

Popular fast casual restaurant Chipotle Mexican Grill agreed to pay a $25 million criminal fine stemming from norovirus outbreaks that sickened customers from 2015 to 2018, prosecutors said Tuesday.

More than 1,100 patrons fell ill from the outbreaks that led to California-based Chipotle to be charged with two counts of violating federal food guidelines "by adulterating food while held for sale after shipment in interstate commerce," the U.S. Attorney said in a statement.

The $25 million penalty is "the largest fine ever imposed in a food-safety case," prosecutors said.

“Chipotle failed to ensure that its employees both understood and complied with its food safety protocols, resulting in hundreds of customers across the country getting sick,” Los Angeles-based U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said.

Chipotle confirmed the deal with prosecutors and said the company is "committed to continue enhancing its already robust food safety policies, practices, and procedures."

“This settlement represents an acknowledgment of how seriously Chipotle takes food safety every day and is an opportunity to definitively turn the page on past events,” company chairman and CEO Brian Niccol said in a statement.