Chipotle has been lauded in recent years for approaching fast food with a socially conscious attitude. It prides itself on being the first national restaurant company to cook only with non-GMOs, and aspires not only to provide fresh, delicious food to its customers, but also educate them about sustainability in the food industry. However, a recent scare with E. Coli has hurt the company's image, even if it has claimed that Chipotle food safety standards are high along with the reopening of 43 potentially affected West Coast restaurants.
Prior to the E. Coli issue — which to be fair, was rather isolated — Chipotle contended with a norovirus outbreak on the West Coast and salmonella stemming from Minnesota locations. The issues cropped up in August and September, respectively, making this E. Coli snafu the third separate food safety scare in a span of three months. Naturally, this has damaged the company's public image rather significantly, which is reflected in its stock behavior. Over that three-month span, the price of a Chipotle share has dropped from almost $750 to roughly $620.
On top of that, Chipotle has to battle public perception that it hasn't been as attentive to the health of its ingredients as it has adamantly claimed for some time now. Sure, it's nice that Chipotle supports its employees very well, offers up its famous guacamole recipe for free, and inspires customers to broadcast their undying love for it, but all of that won't mean much if the products it serves can't be fully trusted.
As we move further into a world shaped by tech and media's influence over conversations and perception, it's important to take important issues like food safety into our own hands. Just because a company says it's serving you the best, healthiest, safest food around doesn't mean you should shove it into your mouth immediately. We all ought to do the research necessary to figure out where our food came from if we really want to feel safe about what's going into our bodies.
Cover image: wearedc2009 Scholars via Flickr