After a string of bad press in 2015, Chipotle has battled back to profitability and seemed to be well on its way to a full recovery. And then came the news of another wave of foodborne illnesses last week at Chipotle’s Sterling, Virginia location and the viral cellphone video of rats falling from the ceiling of a Dallas location.
Suffice it to say, Chipotle’s stocks plummeted.
But there is a school of thought that believes Chipotle’s supposed woes aren’t genuine and are rooted in corporate sabotage. The conspiracy theory claims that certain parties orchestrated the illness outbreaks by planting harmful bacteria in Chipotle restaurants, Business Insider reports. Then, they would short the company’s stock as shares plummeted.
Aaron Allen, a principal at the restaurant-consulting firm Aaron Allen & Associates, wrote on Monday in a LinkedIn post:
“Chipotle short-sellers saw their ambitions rewarded with $55 million in less than one day, thanks to this most recent incident. Though it might seem far-fetched, there are some facts that suggest the near-endless food safety scandals plaguing Chipotle belie something more sinister than simple misfortune.”
Allen was also speculative of the scope of the “outbreak.” Chipotle had four times as many norovirus outbreaks expected for a chain its size, and that each incident of foodborne illness sickened far more people than is common.
Chris Arnold, a Chipotle spokesman, told Bloomberg the company didn’t believe in the conspiracy theories and “did not see any evidence to support them.”
Maybe you should start believing dude. Blaming someone else is always easier than accepting blame yourself. PR 101.
[h/t Business Insider]