HEALTH

Chipotle not serving lunch Monday due to massive employee meeting on food safety

A customer leaves a Chipotle restaurant with food in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015.  Chipotle started reopening its restaurants in the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday after an E. coli outbreak sickened about 45 people, a high-profile example of foodborne illnesses that are more common than the public realizes, health experts say. Forty-three outposts of the Mexican food chain in Washington state and the Portland, Oregon, area were closed at the end of October because of the outbreak that hospitalized more than a dozen people. The first restaurants opened for lunch Wednesday. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

A customer leaves a Chipotle restaurant with food in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. Chipotle started reopening its restaurants in the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday after an E. coli outbreak sickened about 45 people, a high-profile example of foodborne illnesses that are more common than the public realizes, health experts say. Forty-three outposts of the Mexican food chain in Washington state and the Portland, Oregon, area were closed at the end of October because of the outbreak that hospitalized more than a dozen people. The first restaurants opened for lunch Wednesday. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)  ((AP Photo/Don Ryan))

Following a string of food scares, Chipotle restaurants across the U.S. will open later than usual on Monday so workers can attend a meeting about the issue and food safety.

The company says stores will open at 3 p.m. in their local time zones, instead of the usual 11 a.m. Chipotle expects about 50,000 employees to go to more than 400 locations, such as movie theaters and hotel conference rooms, where remarks by company executives will be shown live.

The meeting comes after Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. saw its sales slammed by food scares, including an E. coli outbreak and norovirus cases. In January, sales plunged 36 percent at stores open at least 13 months.

Now the company is plotting a comeback, with its largest marketing campaign yet to start this week.

Chipotle co-CEO Monty Moran said last week that executives would go over new procedures to ensure food safety. The company plans to open a marketing and public relations push this week in a bid to recover from the costly scare.

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Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. plunged around 30 percent after the outbreaks.

Other companies hit by food scares have taken about a year or more to recover, Chipotle executives note, though they acknowledge that their situation may differ because it involved more than one incident, and they received intense exposure in both social and regular media.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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