NEWS
11/02/2015 16:09 EST | Updated 11/02/2016 01:12 EDT

The Latest: Analysts say customers may avoid Chipotle during E. coli scare

SEATTLE — The latest developments in an E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants in Washington state and Oregon (all times local):

1 p.m.

Analysts say the E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants in the Northwest could make consumers wary.

Allen Adamson of New York marketing consultancy BrandSimple says people have many fast food options and if they are worried about the safety of food they will avoid a chain until they're certain the problem has been resolved.

Chipotle's stock fell as much as 5 per cent early Monday, but recovered slightly, and was down about 3 per cent by Monday afternoon.

Although the shutdown restaurants represent just 2 per cent of the company's total locations of 1,931, Chipotle says each restaurant brings in about $2.5 million in revenue a year on average.

Laura Ries, president of Atlanta marketing strategy firm Ries & Ries, said the decision to immediately close the 43 restaurants in Washington and Oregon will help the brand in the long term. She says the chain "went above and beyond what they needed to do."

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9:45 a.m.

A food safety lawyer who is involved in other lawsuits against Chipotle restaurants says people should not assume a company that focuses on local and fresh ingredients is going to be immune from food safety issues.

An E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants in Washington state and Oregon has sickened nearly two dozen people in the third outbreak of foodborne illness at the popular chain this year. Chipotle said they would try to say more about the E. coli outbreak later Monday.

Although E. coli cases have only been connected to six restaurants so far, the company has closed 43 restaurants in the two states. Attorney Bill Marler of Seattle law firm Marler Clark says the company should be commended for that action.

But he says three cases of foodborne illness in a few months shows Chipotle is not paying attention to food safety like it should.

Health officials who are investigating the cause of the outbreak believe it is likely connected with a fresh food product. Marler agrees.

The Associated Press