The E. coli outbreak traced back to Chipotle Mexican restaurant is prompting the company to implement new policies and practices. This outbreak, in which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified 52 victims in a multi-state outbreak of E. coli in California, Ohio, Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, and Washington states, is only one of the five outbreaks to have assailed the patrons of Chipotle in the last five months. It is, perhaps, the most serious, however, given the danger of E. coli poisoning and the fact that victims have been identified in at least 6 states. The other outbreaks include two norovirus outbreaks, a Salmonella outbreak, and another E. coli outbreak wither linked to a single restaurant or that are contained in a single region.
One of the primary changes, according to the company, is to more away from its strong preference for using fresh local ingredients to utilizing a central prep kitchen to prepare food. According to the company, this will help it safeguard the food against bacteria and other food borne pathogens. Chipotle CEO Steve Ells explained one of these processes concerning tomatoes, stating that the new procedure will be that “tomatoes that are now prepared in our centralized prep kitchens are washed, diced, and then washed again and tested before packaging and shipment to our restaurants.” In addition, he indicated that many fresh produce items will be scalded in boiling water prior to use. At the same time, Ells admitted it would be “impossible to ensure that there is a zero percent chance of any kind of food-borne illness anytime anyone eats anywhere,” but indicated that there would be some strict new safety requirements that might not be feasible for small, local growers, including “high resolution testing.”
These changes come on the heels of at least five Chipotle outbreaks, including Salmonella, E. coli and Norovirus, that have plagued the company in recent months. For more information, call 1-888-335-4901.