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Chipotle closed until 3 p.m. today for food safety training

Chipotle Mexican Grill will close all its restaurants for lunch today, then giving away free burritos.

The chain, which usually opens at 11 a.m., will not open until 3 p.m. today in order to discuss new food safety procedures with staff.

The new food preparation and handling protocols include a different process for marinating chicken and steak, marinating certain ingredients in citrus or blanching them to kill microbes, and a focus on safely cleaning and cutting fresh produce.

The company will also begin testing the DNA of meat and produce before it is distributed, implement a food-tracing system and begin conducting third-party restaurant audits, the results of which will be tied to manager bonuses.

The company will live-tweet its national meeting and broadcast it live on Periscope beginning at noon.

Customers can also claim a coupon code for a free burrito today by texting the word “RAINCHECK” to 888-222, the company confirmed Monday.

Chipotle’s image and earnings have taken a hit since the company was associated with several food-borne illness outbreaks, sickening more than 500 customers with E. coli, norovirus and salmonella. Existing store sales fell 14.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

The restaurant has 2,000 locations, six of them locally in the Town of Tonawanda, Amherst, Niagara Falls, Cheektowaga, Williamsville and Hamburg.

email: schristmann@buffnews.com