The cover story of a recent Bloomberg Business magazine issue centers around Chipotle and its attention-grabbing headlines lately concerning E.coli bacteria in its food. The outbreaks have crossed the entire nation and the CDC is investigating the outbreaks and have identified Chipotle's food distributors as the culprit. But it gets tricky to identify which one since one single Chipotle burrito can contain up to 21 different ingredients, some coming from local farms (as described eloquently in Chipotle's ads) but most coming from big food distributors.
At Chipotle, three different pathogens caused the five known outbreaks. That wasn’t inevitable or coincidental. “There’s a problem within the company,” says Michael Doyle, the director of the center for food safety at the University of Georgia. Chipotle has gotten big selling food that’s unprocessed, free of antibiotics and GMOs, sometimes organic, sometimes local. “Blah, blah, blah,” says Doug Powell, a retired food-safety professor and the publisher of barfblog.com. “They were paying attention to all that stuff, but they weren’t paying attention to microbial safety.” Whatever its provenance, if food is contaminated it can still make us sick—or even kill. Millennials may discriminate when they eat, but bacteria are agnostic.
The downside of all of this, obviously, is that many people are getting extremely sick from food eaten at Chipotle. And Chipotle's stance on it all has been relatively lax, skirting around the issue at times as they try to figure out themselves how this all happened. It's safe to say though that their "clean and local" food source image has been tarnished. People are eating there less and the company has been officially served a grand jury subpoena about the outbreak. Eeks. If you are planning to eat at Chipotle, do yourself a favor (for now at least) and stay away until this is all figured out.