In late October of 2015, several people were investigated across the United States with E. coli cases.
In light of the outbreaks at several of Chipotle’s restaurants, people are scared to take a bite of their next burrito. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found 46 cases of E. coli outbreaks from the burrito chain in Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.
The company is even undergoing a nationwide closure of all 1900 locations.
We’ve done our homework and so have several health departments, and these are some things you need to know before you take a bite out of your next Chipotle burrito.
1. The Outbreak Is Most Likely Over
It takes up to three weeks for an E. coli case to be officially diagnosed and reported.
Chris Arnold, spokesperson for Chipotle stated, “while there was some recently reported new case activity, these new cases aren’t really new, and the exposure dates were weeks ago.”
Even the Minnesota Department of Health backed them up stating, “The vast majority of illnesses were reported in a short time period in October; it is likely that whatever contaminated food item or ingredient was served in the affected Chipotle restaurants is no longer in stores.”
2. All 1900 Locations Will Close Nationwide
On February 8th, Chipotle will temporarily shut down all 1900 locations nationwide.
The purpose of the closure is to conduct a mandatory training for all employees. Many critics see this as a bad move for the company. They say that the nationwide closure will send the wrong message to the public, and will only further deter customers from coming back. ‘
Is a nationwide closure necessary in your opinion?
3. Chipotle Is Fixing The Problem
The restaurant has been diligently working to correct the issue so this doesn’t happen again.
The company has been taking steps in both cleaning and sanitation, replacing some of its ingredients and even their supply chain management to correct the issue. Implementing testing on their fresh produce, end-of-shelf-life testing for their ingredients, and also internal training to ensure their employees who handle the food are doing it properly.
They even voluntarily closed down 43 of their Seattle, Washington and Oregon stores to test surfaces and equipment.
Chipotle is “redoubling our efforts to be sure our restaurants are adhering to our food safety practices, and implementing a number of improvements to our practices throughout our system, from the farms that supply our food to our restaurants.”
They have even given a food and safety update on their website on the standards of their food.
4. Where The E. Coli Came From Is Unknown
An ingredient is to blame.
The size of the outbreaks points to an ingredient in the food, not unsanitary practices from the store. Chipotle strives to stay away from processed foods, but even naturally healthy, antibiotic-free meats can have foodborne bacteria. Fresh produce can be cross-contaminated from irrigation water or animals.
5. It Is Safer To Eat Chipotle Now Than Ever
Eat at your own risk.
With the previous admission of food-linked illnesses, Chipotle has adopted more safety programs that could make it the safest place to eat. The company has cut down on local ingredients and is moving to a centralized vegetable preparation.
“We have always had food safety programs that met or exceeded industry standards and we are now implementing new programs that will make us an industry leader in food safety,” Chris Arnold, stated.
Lee-Ann Jaykus, a professor at NC State who studies food, bioprocessing and nutrition sciences said, “there is no formal way to assess consumer risk, so I think consumers really need to carefully consider their own degree of comfort with the situation, as management of risk is very much a personal decision.”
6. Yup, They’ve Got A Secret Menu
Chipotle has secret menu items you can order.
A “Quesarito” and nachos are some items just some of the things you can get at their restaurants. They may not be on the menu, but Chris Arnold said Chipotle’s restaurants are “where employees are trained to make what they can with the ingredients we have if a customer asks.”
7. Chipotle Is Expensive
Chipotles cost for a meal is much higher than most fast food restaurants.
A burrito with chips and a drink can reach over $12, and to many people that may seem overpriced to other options.
Chris Arnold backed up those prices because Chipotle is, “using ingredients that have typically only been available in high-end restaurants or specialty food stores.”
8. Chipotle Is Hypocritical?
Top executives still getting paid the big bucks.
Chipotle has made a name for itself to having a higher calling, and breaking away from the typical fast food restaurant. Chipotle has boasted sustainable food and education. Even going so far as to say “Food With Integrity.” But they might not be above paying themselves the big bucks.
In 2014, Steve Ells and Monty Moran co-chief executives for Chipotle were paid over $28 million. Even the shareholders voted against their pay packages, but they had no say in changing it.
9. They’re A Little Iffy With Their Labor Practices
Accusations from employees that Chipotle shortchanges their workers.
Employees called out Chipotle, stating they would force workers to clock out but continue to make them work. Chipotle workers are saying they work extra hours for no pay in Colorado and Minnesota back in 2014.
“If I complained about not being paid for all of the hours that I worked, Chipotle would threaten me with termination or would punish me by cutting my hours,” Demarkus Hobbs, a former employee who filed the lawsuit said in his statement.
10. Chipotle Has Pizza?!
Chipotle has partnered up with Pizzeria Locale.
Chipotle recently announced they were investing in Pizzeria Locale. They had been quietly working with the enterprise in Colorado before going public.
11. Chipotle Serves Beer In Select Locations
Chipotle is serving craft beers in Chicago.
Chipotle has been working with a Chicago-based brewery called 5 Rabbit brewery to create “Farmhouse Ale”.