PR Crisis: How Chipotle handled a contamination crisis

chipotle jessica

By Jessica Finkel

On Feb. 7th, 2016, Chipotle ruined lunch plans for thousands of students. Restaurants closed down around the nation in order to hold a national four-hour staff meeting to address food safety issues. This came about due to recent outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella and norovirus in their restaurants that infected 500 customers.

Due to the breakouts, Chipotle’s loyal fan base had turned against them with some posting pictures of the meat at the restaurants and joking that they had been infected with E. coli. Along with this, Chipotle’s stocks had fallen in the past several months due to reports of the outbreaks.

But even with the outbreaks and worries, many loyal food lovers say they will continue to eat at Chipotle despite the possible risks. When students at the University of Florida were asked whether this recent occurrence would affect their food plans many replied with No’s, as many reacted indifferent to this event.

Sydney Bleiweiss, a UF third-year political science major, said she wasn’t concerned.

“Chipotle is taking the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the food and of its establishments,” Bleiweiss said.

On that same day, Chipotle released a giveaway promotion of one free burrito for the next opening day at their establishments by texting “Raincheck” to 888-222 between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The offer caused a massive spike in the amount of people who visited the restaurants. Once the stores had opened up again the next day, Chipotle on West University Avenue became packed with customers in lines wrapping around the restaurant.

Lauren Robinov, a UF first-year international relations major, was one of the first people to arrive early.

“Even though I was one of the first in line, it was already long when I got there,” Robinov said. “By the time I got my food, the line was filling up the restaurant.”

Chipotle has also created a more rigorous food inspection program that includes checking vegetables multiple times before they’re sent to the store, throwing out batches that are found to have one infected vegetable, and only marinating their meat at night to make sure that it doesn’t come in contact with any other food.

Chipotle has taken the time to ensure its food is safe and to keep their customers coming back for more. So next time you’re looking for lunch, there’s no need to worry about health concerns. Chipotle’s got you covered.

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