Filed Under:Claims, Investigative & Forensics

Buffalo Wild Wings tumbles on report of illnesses in Kansas

A Buffalo Wild Wings flag football tournament during the BGCA All-stars event on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Gilbert, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America)
A Buffalo Wild Wings flag football tournament during the BGCA All-stars event on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 in Gilbert, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America)

(Bloomberg) -- Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. shares tumbled as much as 7.8% after Kansas health officials said they were investigating reports of a gastrointestinal illness that sickened at least 10 customers.

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment began receiving the reports on Jan. 29, including some from students at the local school district in Overland Park, Kansas, where the restaurant was located. The agency, which is working with the state’s health and agriculture departments and the city of Overland Park, said on Wednesday that it was waiting on lab results.

Buffalo Wild Wings closed the restaurant in question and sent in a third-party vendor for a “thorough cleaning,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. It reopened on Wednesday after a consultation with the health department.

“Although there is no conclusive link to our restaurant being the source of the illness, we voluntarily took these actions out of an abundance of caution,” the company said.

The report comes at a time of heightened awareness about foodborne illnesses — and the impact they can have on a restaurant chain. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has seen its sales and stock price plunge in recent months, dragged down by E. coli and norovirus outbreaks. For Buffalo Wild Wings, the timing is especially troublesome: The Super Bowl on Sunday is a massive sales day for the chain.

Stock decline

The stock fell as low as $138.31 in New York, reaching their lowest point since October 2014. Buffalo Wild Wings was already down 6% this year before the latest decline.

The lab results will probably arrive in a few days, the Johnson County health department said. There are no confirmed cases of norovirus associated with Buffalo Wild Wings, according to the agency.

“These types of illness are common this time of year,” Lougene Marsh, the department’s director, said in a statement Tuesday. “Proper hand washing and staying home from school, work and public places, like restaurants, when you are ill are the best ways to prevent the spread of these types of illness. We encourage food service facilities and restaurants to take additional precautions to ensure the safety of their customers.”

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