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?