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POLL: Are You Still Willing to Eat at Chipotle?

With nearly 500 people sick, Chipotle is taking drastic measures to win back business.
Published
Chipotle burrito

For any fast-food chain, food borne illnesses can be debilitating to both their customers and their business. Chipotle, which has long tried to differentiate itself by using fresher ingredients than its competition, is in the midst of a fiasco proportionate to its notoriously gigantic burritos.

Since last year, nearly 500 people across the country have become ill as a result of eating at the Mexican chain. Has this changed your mind about eating at Chipotle?

From E. Coli to Norovirus

It began in July, when five customers in Seattle were infected with E. Coli. Then, a month later, 234 people fell ill when exposed to norovirus by eating at a Simi Valley, California location where a kitchen manager had worked while feeling ill. Most recently, in December, 141 college students in Boston contracted the norovirus from eating at a Beantown Chipotle.

Can Free Food Counter Lawsuits and Bad Press?

Naturally, these occurrences have caused business to suffer, and they have also resulted in nine lawsuits filed by customers as well as a group of stockholders who assert that the company failed to disclose that its "quality controls were inadequate to safeguard consumer and employee health."

To combat failing business, Chipotle is allowing the managers of its locations to give away free food to lure customers. It's also running a Super Bowl promotion where the first 1,500 catering orders of 20 burritos or more will receive a $50 discount. The biggest news, though, is that the day after the Super Bowl, February 8, Chipotle will shut down all its locations for a national employee meeting to address food safety.

Nevertheless, some people still love Chipotle and don't need any convincing to eat there. Several NBA stars have professed their love for the chain on Twitter, including Boston Celtics General Manager (and former guard) Danny Ainge, who referred to himself as the "Jared of Chipotle." (We assume that means he eats there almost every day, but we'd still recommend a different comparison.)

Will You Eat at Chipotle?

But how about you? We want to know if all the latest PR nightmares have affected your Chipotle consumption, or will you just figure out how to make the Mexican food at home?


Senior Staff Writer

Stephen has been writing for such national and regional publications as The Village Voice, Paste, The Agit Reader, and The Big Takeover for 20 years, and has been covering consumer electronics and technology for DealNews since 2013.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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40 comments
orangemetal
It's still fast food! So who is dumb enough to think that they are healthy? Go study Weston A Price's research and they'll found out how unhealthy they really are. They're just leeching off a label that means nothing because of a corrupt USDA. Organic means little to nothing anymore. The definitions means nothing. In fact, I just head that "grass-fed" labeling is pointless now that they can't afford to guarantee that meats are so. Forget fast food, people, and go engage your local farmers at your closest farmers markets. It is the only way to be at all certain about your food. Of course not all farmers care the food they product or just don't know, but many do or they wouldn't be there for us every weekend.
Ardbeg
I literally LOLd at "outside sabotage." Yes, those organic producers intentionally contaminated their own product to screw over one of their biggest clients and advocates. Or was it the chemtrails?
FSKC
REAL problem is Chipotle is bucking a fraudulent industrialized food system. Exposed that a business chain can produce nutritional/good tasting food for a reasonable price. Chipotle's 'food contamination' was outside sabotage. If you want some supporting reality of how our "representatives" are fraudulently screwing us.

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 > DARK Act: Deny Americans the Right to Know.

House 275 - 150 eliminate GMO labeling as a FEDERAL STANDARD, anti-constitutional.

Vote: http://politics.nytimes.com/...tes/114/house/1/462

Senators congratulate one another on toxic food system. Sen Stabnow fraudulent frames GMO a perception problem by the American public. Perpetration on American Citizenry from early 1990's. Reagan/Bush's 12 years of 'DEREGULATION' the FOX guarding the hen house, 'standard of regulation'.

Sen Hearing:
http://www.agriculture.senate.gov/...-perspectives
Califas
Stopped eating Chipotle few months back. Extremely long lines, quality control began to pack and prices seemed to increase by $2-$3 bucks for a burrito. I understand that product may be more "organic" but come on, it's a freaking burrito. $10-$11 for a burrito is ridiculous. Not a fan of companies that charge more because they can and choose to boycott those that do. Another example of a company that grew to fast and hires minimum wage employees to reproduce a product that was made with great care before stockholders became involved and now wants to charge me more to please someone else. NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!
Eyewerks
I never much cared for Chipolte, or any fast food restaurant (especially the ones where you're at the mercy of some almost unemployable slug to ladle out grub and supervise portion management from an inaccessible buffet table), but if I was starving and there was no other option Moe's would be my burrito of choice.

Chipolte is highly overrated and seems to appeal to the hipster and Starbucks crowd.
dannyka
At the very least, I'm waiting until after Feb 8 when they have their all-hands meeting on food safety. :P
ctrujillo2
BROCK

McDonald's sold them years ago.
ctrujillo2
I ordered and ate there yesterday and was thinking it was so empty. The chipotle I was at used to be so packed. Then it hit me. I remembered the news and I kind of panicked. I've waited 24 hours to get sick. I'm in the clear.
kungfupanda
Now that the line is shorter, I love Chipotle even more..
heatedseats
i ate there twice last week after a 2 month hiatus. it was nice because the line was way shorter than normal. they got rid of the lemons by the water though.
nestormart
Don't care, I probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than contracting E.coli from Chipotle. These sort of things happen all the time at different restaurants.
Ardbeg
BTW, McDonald's sold all Chipotle stock in 2006 and they no longer share any distribution infrastructure (no need, now that Chipotle is so big). That said, I eat at McDonald's more often than Chipotle, so it wouldn't bother me if they were still connected.
Dodol
Not a fan, maybe twice. Don't eat out much, I'm too cheap. That's why I read deal news daily
Perseus
Great food. Great company. Food poisoning is very common and not the end of the world. Don't overly-punish a solid company like Chipotle. I'll go an extra time just to make up for some of the lemmings.
dealdud
I eat out only a few times per year so my "vote" might not hold as much weight as others. The last time I ate at Chipotle will most likely be my last. The restaurant that I visited (in Central Florida) had a VERY leaky roof ... with water dripping on a number of tables. After I ate I felt very weird to say it mildly.

What I find so amazing about the whole thing is that the restaurant was absolutely full of customers even with the water falling on them or the questionable food quality. Either Chipotle has something going here or the general public in this country is extremely passive and will "settle" for just about anything ... or both. A not-so-good experience that I would not want to repeat.
25rob52
Chipotle is quality food.
They have been against man made/created/industrialized food for some time.
I trust Chipotle food far more then their parent co. McDonalds.
I stopped eating McDonalds after I got too many weird texture hamburgers.
Yes, McDonalds is 100% beef but that spongy texture burger can only be from (still US legal) "pink slime" ingredients in my view.
In the US business market I wouldn't be surprised to find that the modified food industry has had a hand in crafting the outbreaks.
rex2745
I haven't ate Chipotle in like a month too expensive $10 a burrito if they are willing to lower the price down by at least $2-3 dollars il think about it or offer a buy one get one free coupon or the very least throw in 2 scoops of meat if they don't change anything to please the customer i wont go back plus most of the Chipotles i go to are run by teenagers who are really rude so i wont go back to risk getting sick
tylerstravis
Last I heard they couldn't figure out what was causing the outbreaks. I used to eat there once a week and haven't been in months. Until I feel that they have it under control I won't be back.
luvsdeals
I've never eaten at Chipotle's, but would likely continue l if I did... I agree with adbox101 and think with the spotlight on them, it would probably be one of the safest places to eat right now. I rarely eat out, I'd rather take that money saved from eating out at Chipotle's or elsewhere and spend it on deals/goodies that I find on DealNews.
drewb
My only issue with Chipotle is that they seemed to take their time with the e-coli issue out West. The sick employee spreading norovirus could occur at any eating establishment (and probably does more often than is reported).

On one hand, I wished they identified the source of the e-coli. But the fact that they could not is actually encouraging in that it forced them to re-evaluate their entire food supply chain for every single ingredient.

So at this point, I'd say Chipotle is probably safer to eat than many other restaurants.
Brock J
Chipotle became a susidiary of McDonald's in 1999 when McDonald's acquired the controlling stake of the company. At one point, McDonald's owned shares accounting for approximately 87% of the voting power of Chipotle's common stock. In Chipotle's earlier stages, McDonald's helped Chipotle's operations by sharing its own distribution networks.

Enough said
premnarayandas
I was earlier eating at Chipotle once a month or lesser than that, but have decided to stop. I once had an instance where my son had stomach flu but didn't link it to food he had eaten there just a that day. They may need to do a lot to convince me to come back.
kRaYzRaY
It's fine. Of course I'll continue to eat there.
gizmovision
I've never eaten there, just one more reason to cook more food at home after I wash it...
I'm finding we're eating out even less with this and the poor economy...
mogelijk
While I don't want to minimize Norovirus, that seems like it doesn't even belong in the same conversation with eColi. Norovirus is a very common disease and you are far more likely to get it from flying in an airplane or going on a cruise than you are from Chipotle -- but when have you ever heard a person say they wouldn't fly because they might catch a Norovirus?

As stated, the Norovirus occurred at two locations because a person came into work sick with the virus. It wasn't anything in the food, it isn't going to suddenly show up at another location (again, unless an employee comes in who is sick with it).

If they had an ongoing eColi issue (much like Blue Bell and listeria), then I think concern would be warranted. But isolated outbreaks of norovirus at two stores (which is a very common virus) and one case of eColi in one region 6 months ago does not equal an epidemic.
ChillenAzn
Yeap, but I've eaten there so many times that I need a change or flavor. I am willing, just not wanting at this point.
wlau89
I'm trying to go viral and have been eating Chipotle since the outbreak. This would mark the 100th day.

I am also going to the doctor every other week and doc said I am more healthy than ever!

Thanks Chip!
adbox1001
Now that the spotlight is on them ,their food should be safer than most. Bring it on!
TZen
I second "Ardbeg"s comments about Chipotle scaremongering over the unproven dangers of GMO's and nonorganic foods, and the real dangers of eating high calories day after day. My two cents.

If you disagree, and claim that GMO's are dangerous & organic foods are safer, please provide a link to any large, double-blind randomized controlled peer-reviewed studies with mortality outcomes showing otherwise. I'm not interested in what you heard from a friend :)
Kupakai
I've been eating there more recently because it's never crowded anymore. I didn't even know about the outbreaks. I was wondering why it was so empty.
Ardbeg
I actually think Chipotle tastes pretty good for chain fast food (it's not fair to compare it to "authentic" local restaurants), and I'm not afraid to eat there because none of the incidents happened near me and the math says getting sick from a particular burrito is absurdly unlikely (even less so going forward, assuming they put some new effective safety measures in place). I suspect if you added up all food poisonings across 1900 random local burrito joints, it would match or exceed Chipotle's total, but its not news because Freebirds in Texas doesn't have to answer for what happens at El Rey in Alabama.

That said, I admit a bit of schadenfreude given Chipotle markets themselves with constant scaremongering about the dangers of those evil GMOs, nonorganic food, etc. Turns out "natural" and "organic" don't equal safe (nor is the inverse true). And, of course, a 1400 calorie burrito isn't necessarily healthy, even if it is all organic and doesn't give you e. coli.
Jeff Somogyi (DealNews)
You have to consider that the actual chances you'll get ill from Chipotle are very slim. The outbreaks were isolated cases, it's just unfortunate (for them) that they all happened around the same time, building a picture that all of their food is tainted.

On the other hand, the chances of being hit by a car are very good (about one in 4,292), yet we all continue to cross the street.

(Plus, if you stop eating at places that have made people sick, then your options for food would be non-existent - including food you've made yourself.)
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
I'd just like to remind everyone that when cruise lines kept having some catastrophes, very few people seemed swayed from taking a cruise vacation: http://dealnews.com/...th-Deal-Seekers/679675.html
snaimpally
Many restaurants have been through food scares before. Jack in the box survived a big tainted beef scare and Blue Bell survived its listeria scare. However, I will never eat Blue Bell ice cream because the executives knew about the Listeria problems and covered it up as long as they could. At least Chipotle is trying to address the problems.
B from C
I switched to Hot Heads a few years ago and have no intention of switching back.
snowy
who cares :)... a little e. coli is good for the waist line.....
av0cado
I've never been to chipotle before. ever.
dealnews-mbonebright (DealNews)
I didn't like Chipotle before it was making people sick, so now I sit on my mountain of smug and look down on everyone who ever liked their awful burritos. THERE I SAID IT
ethelmonk
Chipotle can't even keep the food i buy from them safe.
Why would eat their free food? I'm never going back.
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
Chipotle is a very contentious topic amongst the DealNews staff.