By Clare Driscoll, ’19 And Hannah Shi ’19
Just a few months ago, Chipotle was a popular destination for many in search of a fast, tasty and relatively cheap meal. However, Chipotle’s products were recently contaminated with salmonella in the tomatoes, and E. Coli, which has not been identified to belong to one specific food. Despite the risk, many students continue to visit Chipotle, though most are more hesitant about eating there.
After the first signs of a salmonella and E. Coli outbreak in Oregon, E. Coli also began appearing in other states. Over 60 people were hospitalized, including three in Cleveland. Chipotle was inspected by Californian federal officials, and then by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After multiple breakouts and a drop in sales and stock, Chipotle had to seriously reconsider its food safety rules, and issued a nationwide shutdown for one day to discuss food-safety with employees, and to give workers updates on what their next step was. Chipotle closed 43 of its restaurants and instituted a company wide shutdown on Feb. 8 from 12 to 3 p.m.
Sophomore Skyler Hunt, a Chipotle employee, mentioned stricter rules on handling food to prevent contamination.
“Chipotle has made some changes to increase food safety, like pre-marinated meat and pre-cut vegetables,” Hunt said.
Despite the potential danger of working at Chipotle, Hunt mentioned that he never considered leaving his job at Chipotle because of the risk. He instead feared that Chipotle would cut down on jobs due to decreased sales.
On the day of the shutdown, free burritos were offered to regain the trust of customers. Chipotle also invited back customers with direct emails.
Months after, the CDC announced the chain seemed to be clear of E. Coli or salmonella. Soon after this announcement, Chipotle stock jumped back up, recovering from the E. Coli outbreak.
However, there were many people who did not wait for the CDC to confirm the safety of Chipotle. Freshman Bridget Reed, a regular Chipotle patron, continued going there despite the risk.
“I really should have stopped going but I did not because [Chipotle] was worth it,” Reed said.
Though Chipotle has suffered losses in sales and customers, it has begun to recover from the outbreaks. With more offers of free food and the reassurance from the CDC that Chipotle is safe, many customers are returning to the popular fast-food chain.
“[Because of the changes Chipotle has made with safety] I think customers have been encouraged to eat here,” Hunt said.