Chipotle Sabotage Speculation Resurfaces

Speculation that Chipotle's food has been deliberately infected has resurfaced after the latest rash of bad news for the company. The idea first surfaced after the 2015 norovirus outbreak at the chain. Restaurant consultant Aaron D. Allen has analyzed the situation and has found several reasons to think Chipotle may have been sabotaged.

Bloomberg has taken note and even earlier wrote that's founder, Patrick Quade, is Morgan Stanley’s former global head of interest-rates trading-market structure.

Quade is trying to sell a souped-up version of his database,, to hedge funds and brands that want to sniff out trouble in the food industry. The price? $5,000 a month. So far he’s landed about two dozen clients, all industry businesses.

“Funds are interested in bespoke data sources.[*]” he says, adding that he’s urged some interested hedge funds “to get on with it, as it seemed a trading opportunity was inevitable.” — Brandon Kochkodin, Bloomberg

Writes consultant Allen on Linked in,

Sabotage is not unheard of, particularly when it comes to those who tamper with a company’s product to seek financial reward. Chipotle short-sellers saw their ambitions rewarded with $55 million in less than one day, thanks to this most recent incident.

The fast-casual burrito chain lost nearly $1 billion per week in market capitalization in the wake of its 2015 food safety scandal.

More than a few may be thinking that with a payday like that, perhaps there are those who would stoop to such lowest-of-the-low levels. Buttressing that thought, Allen pens, 

"Far more egregious crimes have been committed for far less financial gain. Billions of dollars were eviscerated [in Chipotle short sales] in what seems like a matter of minutes. No bank robber in history has seen that kind of success."

He feels that Chipotle is more vulnerable to quick stock price drops than other restaurant chains. "Chipotle isn’t alone in its food safety transgressions — but its reputation seems to amplify any offenses and therefore have more of a negative impact on sales and stock price," he writes in his Linked in column on the subject.

* "Bespoke data sources" defined here.

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