Chipotle hit with $25 Million Fine for Food Safety Violations


William Marler, U.S. Leading Food Safety Attorney and Advocate, Comments

(Seattle,WA) “Although there was no intentional criminal behavior like there was in the Peanut Corporation of America case that sickened several hundred, killing nine, this hefty food safety fine for negligence, should clearly send a message to the entire restaurant industry,” said Marler Clark attorney, William Marler. “The message is clear – food safety must be your paramount concern,” added Marler.

According to a U.S. Attorney press release today, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. will pay $25 million to resolve criminal charges related to the company’s involvement in foodborne illness outbreaks that sickened more than 1,100 people between 2015 and 2018.

The $25 million criminal fine is the largest ever in a food safety case.  Over the last 27 years, Marler Clark represented victims in all major Chipotle foodborne illness outbreaks that also involved criminal sanctions:

  • 2012 Eric and Ryan Jensen Listeria Cantaloupe Outbreak that sickened 147, killing 33 - 5 years’ probation.
  • 2012 Jack and Peter DeCoster Salmonella Egg Outbreak that sickened over 2,000 - $7M fine and three months in jail.
  • 2015 ConAgra Foods Salmonella Peanut Butter Outbreak that sickened over 700 - $11.2M fine.
  • 2014 Stewart Parnell and the Peanut Corporation of America Salmonella Outbreak that sickened over 700, killing nine – 28 years in federal prison.
  • 1997 Odwalla E. coli Apple Juice that sickened at least 70, killing one - $1.4M fine.

Chipotle was implicated in at least five foodborne illness outbreaks between 2015 and 2018 connected to restaurants in Los Angeles, Boston, Virginia, and Ohio.  These incidents primarily stemmed from store-level employees’ failure to follow company food safety protocols at company-owned restaurants, including a Chipotle policy requiring the exclusion of employees who were sick or recently had been sick.

Not part of the criminal plea, Chipotle was also involved in E. coli and Salmonella cases in 2015.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne outbreaks including E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis and Norovirus. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our  lawyers have litigated cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.

To contact Bill Marler during the COVID-19 lockdown, email him at bmarler@marlerclark.com or call 1-206-794-5043.