Chipotle Addresses Spread of E. coli

Chipotle TwitterChipotle's E. coli trouble is spreading to other parts of the United States. Although the outbreak was thought to be limited to Washington and Oregon, new reports show illnesses in California, Ohio, New York, and Minnesota. For the first time since it became an independent company, Chipotle's same-restaurant sales may decline, and the stock has taken a hit.

 On a page on its website under "Food Safety Update," the company explains the situation. 

 The CDC has informed Chipotle that it identified six additional cases in which initial testing matches the E. coli strain involved in the Washington and Oregon incident. Although one of the individuals has no known link to Chipotle, five individuals did report eating at Chipotle, including two in Turlock, CA, one in the Akron, OH area, one in Amherst, NY, and one in Burnsville, MN.

Investigators have suggested that in incidents like this, it is not unusual to see additional cases after the initial incident as the investigation moves forward. The source of the problem appears to have been contained during a period in late October. 42 of the 43 cases linked to Chipotle reported visiting one of the restaurants in question between October 13 and October 30. One person reported having eaten November 6.

Since this issue began, Chipotle conducted deep cleaning at the restaurants that have been linked to this incident, replaced ingredients in those restaurants, changed food preparation procedures, provided all necessary supply chain data to investigators, and surveyed employees to be sure none had E. coli (note: no Chipotle employees in any states have had E. Coli stemming from this incident). Similar actions are immediately being taken in response to these newly reported cases.

Chipotle is also taking significant steps to be sure all of its food is as safe as possible. Specifically, we are expanding testing of key ingredients, examining all of our food-safety procedures to find any opportunity for improvement, and are working with two renowned food safety scientists to assess all of its food safety programs, from the farms that provide our food to our restaurants.

Connections to this incident are limited to seventeen Chipotle restaurants. 

The statement goes on to list the locations and provide a Q&A for concerned customers. 

The company's Twitter page is active. Representatives respond personally to tweets, as shown here. 

Discussion Starters: 

  • Analyze the company's statement on its website. What works well, and what could be improved? Particularly consider the last sentence shown above. 
  • Does this news affect whether you would visit a Chipotle restaurant? What, if anything, can the company do to assure you that the food is safe?