Chipotle has announced that it will close all of its doors at all of its locations for one day. On February 8th all locations of the beloved fast food Mexican restaurant will be closed for a few hours so that they can do important food safety meetings. This news comes after Chipotle has had multiple incidents with food poisoning over the past year.
Next month the chain will start a marketing campaign that will aim to bring the customers back in who might have been scared off during the recent incidents with food safety.
The Chipotle founder and co-Chief Executive Steve Ells spoke about the move at an investor conference in Florida, saying:
“I’m confident we’ll recover from this and win back our customers,” and added “We know that Chipotle is as safe as it’s ever been before.”
Naturally the company hopes to get to the point where the number of food outbreaks is zero, but it is going to take some work on their part. But it’s definitely a necessary move, as they were hit with a subpoena in December and an official criminal investigation being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, along with the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations.
One of the most recent outbreaks at Chipotle took place in Boston when more than 120 college students got sick with the norovirus, and dozens have people have gotten sick from E coli poisoning over the past few months.
There was also a norovirus outbreak in California that sickened over 100 people, as well as a Salmonella Outbreak in Minnesota that sickened 64 people.
All these outbreaks really make customers nervous, some of which are suing the company. Chipotle predicted an 8 percent drop in sales in the fourth quarter but will be trying to get things back up.
According to Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold there have not been any E coli cases in the past two months, and there haven’t been any incidents with the millions of customers that they serve each day.
The only reason that Chipotle has more food safety incidents than other fast food restaurants, is that they serve fresh food.
According to food safety expert Melinda Wilkins, who is the director of the online master of science in food safety at Michigan State University:
“The more complicated your supply chain is, the more opportunity you have to introduce problems. [Chipotle’s] food sourcing is a laudable effort—and it’s what customers want. But they’re probably walking a fine line between offering fresh, local ingredients and decentralized food preparation and the risk of introducing foodborne pathogens because it is such a complicated food chain.”
Chipotle has over 1,900 restaurants, many of which are in the U.S. but some of which are not.