Chipotle’s been at the center of multiple public health crises in recent years. From pork contaminated with E. coli to a recent incident where 133 people got sick from eating at one location in Sterling, Virginia, the Mexican fast food chain is under fire quite a lot. In fact, some investors believe they might be under fire a bit too much.
Aaron Allen, a principal at a restaurant-consulting firm, wrote a LinkedIn post on Monday arguing that Chipotle may be at the center of a conspiracy to sabotage the fast-food chain. He argues that investors who short Chipotle stock, meaning they make large sums of money if the stock price plummets, planted harmful bacteria in various restaurants to cause these public outbreaks.
“Chipotle short-sellers saw their ambitions rewarded with $55 million in less than one day, thanks to this most recent incident,” Allen wrote about the recent Sterling, Virginia outbreak. “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 pointed to other instances of companies being targeted in conspiracies, such as a 2005 incident in which a woman plant a severed finger in a cup of chili at Wendy’s. He also noted that 60 percent of food outbreaks occur between December and May, while Chipotle’s outbreaks have been between July and December, and that Chipotle’s seen four times as many norovirus outbreaks than expected for a fast food chain of its size.
Allen is not the first person to suggest something fishy may be going on with the Chipotle outbreaks. A website called “Natural News” published an article two years ago accusing biotech companies for “unleashing attacks against the only fast food company that has publicly denounced GMOs.”
In fact, even scientists, real scientists, are confused by Chipotle’s outbreaks. After the E. coli incidents in 2015, health investigators spent three months conducting thousands (thousands!) of tests, and couldn’t identify the source of the outbreak. In most fast food health contamination cases, the source is determined quickly. And in addition to government scientists, Chipotle itself conducted hundreds of internal tests and also couldn’t find the source.
A Chipotle spokesman says the company “did not see any evidence to support” the conspiracy theories.
But that’s exactly what a company afraid of being targeted by an international conspiracy would say.