E. Coli Outbreak at Chipotle

1024px-Chipotle_Mexican_Grill_logo_svgAn E. coli outbreak has caused Chipotle to close 43 stores in Oregon and Washington. The Center for Disease Control is investigating links between ingredients and 39 people falling ill. Fortunately for Chipotle, the CDC said it "does not have any information to suggest that Chipotle Mexican Grill locations in other states are affected by this outbreak."

The company issued a press release:

Chipotle Moves Aggressively to Address Issues in Washington and Oregon

Company voluntarily closes restaurants; replaces food; cooperates fully with investigation

DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 3, 2015-- On the heels of an E. coli incident that was linked to eight of its restaurants in Oregon and Washington state, Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) has taken a number of immediate steps to assist investigators as they conduct their review of the incident in Oregon and Washington. Among the specific actions the company has taken since the incident began are:

    • Immediately closing 43 restaurants in Oregon and Washington state out of an abundance of caution, even though only eight restaurants have drawn concern, while investigators search for a cause;
    • Conducting additional deep cleaning and full sanitization of its restaurants in the area;
    • Conducting environmental testing in its restaurants, and food testing in its restaurants and distribution centers in addition to testing being conducted by health department officials;
    • Replacing all food items in the restaurants we closed, out of an abundance of caution;
    • Batch testing some ingredients before resupplying;
    • Continuing to help in the investigation; and
    • Retaining two preeminent food safety consulting firms (including Seattle-based IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group) to help the company assess and improve upon its already high standards for food safety.

"The safety of our customers and integrity of our food supply has always been our highest priority," said Steve Ells, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle. "We work with a number of very fresh ingredients in order to serve our customers the highest-quality, best-tasting food we can. If there are opportunities to do better, we will push ourselves to find them and enhance our already high standards for food safety. Our deepest sympathies go out to those who have been affected by this situation and it is our greatest priority to ensure the safety of all of the food we serve and maintain our customers' confidence in eating at Chipotle."

While no cause has yet been identified by investigating health officials, Chipotle continues to work swiftly and thoroughly with health department officials as they look to conclude this investigation.

The company's Twitter page has no mention of the closings.

Discussion Starters:

  • Assess the company's press release. What works best?
  • Should Chipotle include some of this news on its Twitter page? What are the arguments for and against this communication?