Business

Chipotle takes out full-page apology ads in Globe, Herald

Dozens of people were sickened by norovirus after eating at the Chipotle Mexican Grill in Brighton’s Cleveland Circle earlier this month.
Scott Eisen/Getty Images/File
Dozens of people were sickened by norovirus after eating at the Chipotle Mexican Grill in Brighton’s Cleveland Circle earlier this month.

Chipotle Mexican Grill’s founder and CEO is sorry about the chain’s recent health outbreaks that sickened dozens, and he wants everyone to know.

Steve Ells wrote a seven-paragraph apology letter in an advertisement that ran prominently in The Boston Globe and Boston Herald on Wednesday, noting that the recent problems “have shown us that we need to do better, much better.”

The fast-food chain has seen a series of health woes, including an outbreak earlier this month of norovirus linked to the Chipotle location in Brighton’s Cleveland Circle that sickened about 140 people, many of them Boston College students. Boston health officials later cited the restaurant for two health violations: improper handling of poultry and the presence of a sick employee.

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The chain also last month closed 43 restaurants in Washington state and Oregon after linking some restaurants to an E. coli outbreak, which sickened 52 people, according to Ells’s ad.

Stephen Brashear/AP/File
Chipotle Mexican Grill founder and CEO Steve Ells.
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“The fact that anyone has become ill eating at Chipotle is completely unacceptable to me and I am deeply sorry,” Ells wrote.

The chain has since adopted a new food safety program, Ells wrote: “I believe our restaurants are safer today than they have ever been,” adding that the company is “confident that we can achieve near zero risk.”

Ells also thanked “loyal customers who have stood by us through this difficult time.”

This isn’t the first time Ells has humbled himself and his company in front of a large audience: He also apologized in an interview on NBC’s “Today” program earlier this month.

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“This was a very unfortunate incident, and I am deeply sorry it happened,’’ Ells said at that time. “When we reopen, that restaurant will be completely sanitized and every single employee will be tested to assure they do not have the norovirus.’’

The following is a copy of the advertisement that appeared in The Boston Globe on Wednesday: