The possibility of more food safety problems at Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (CMG - Get Report) has investors scrambling to determine if the scandal is here to stay.

Chipotle shares dropped Tuesday, July 18, after the company confirmed it had closed a location in Sterling, Virginia, due to a wave of illnesses consistent with norovirus. Under the circumstances, the perception of "unsafety" is more important than the reality, BMO Capital Markets Corp. analyst Andrew Strelzik wrote Wednesday, July 19.

"While norovirus at a single location is not overly significant on the surface, we believe there is greater uncertainty now as there is a reasonable probability that media coverage will outweigh the severity of the incident and create renewed same-store sales weakness, expanding downside risk within our framework," he wrote, downgrading Chipotle to market perform and reducing his price target to $350 from $550.

TheStreet's founder and Action Alerts PLUS portfolio manager Jim Cramer said the company is now off the radar for the next 18 months. That's the time needed for the public to build back trust after a crisis.

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