Some PR professionals have some harsh words for Chipotle — the chain is handling its food-borne illness crisis all wrong.
Since Oct. 31, the former Wall Street darling has been hit by a food-borne illness double whammy. First, officials linked it to an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 52 people in multiple states. Then, Boston College said health officials confirmed a food-borne illness outbreak linked to a Boston-area Chipotle. More than 120 BC students reported to the college's health services with symptoms consistent with norovirus.
Then, 65 people, including Boston College students and basketball players, fell ill after eating at one of its locations and tests indicated the presence of norovirus, according to the Boston Public Health Commission.
The fallout has hammered Chipotle's comparable-restaurant sales and share price, which has dropped about 13 percent since the problems surfaced.
In response, the chain temporarily shut down some affected locations, adopted more stringent food safety initiatives and conducted extensive ingredient testing.
Still, crisis management pros say the restaurant's response is just not cutting it.
"They're not going far enough," Gene Grabowski, who runs the crisis group at kglobal, told CNBC.
"They're not painting pictures with their words," he said. "They're still doing too much explaining."
A veteran of handling food recalls and food-borne illness, Grabowski has worked on more than 160 such incidents, including the Blue Bell ice cream and Aspen Foods chicken recalls.