Chipotle is having a disastrous end to 2015.
The chain restaurant has been forced to close all 43 stores locations in Oregon and Washington after an outbreak of customers getting sick with the suspected culprit being E. coli. According to The Daily Caller, so far 22 people have become sick, with 8 people being hospitalized. The problem started in August when nearly 80 people, including almost 20 staff members, came down with norovirus after eating at the restaurant in California. In September, about 60 people were sickened by salmonella in Minnesota restaurant locations.
But this isn’t even the first time that Chipotle has dealt with very serious food safety problems – in 2008 and 2009 hundreds of people were also sickened by eating at the restaurants in California.
First, let me just say that I do not use this story to brow beat Chipotle at the expense of those that fell ill. Food borne illnesses are a serious issue and no laughing matter, especially for those struck with it. I sincerely hope that all of those that have taken ill are quickly on the mend and regain full health.
But I can’t help but find all of this incredibly ironic.
Over the recent years, Chipotle, which is really nothing more than a self-obsessed fast food restaurant, has made it a point to herald itself as a place with better food. The company has led this charge with it’s campaign “Food with Integrity.” It started with Chipotle’s advertisement, “The Scarecrow,” which tried to impress upon viewers that today’s farmers are nothing more than big corporate entities attempting to make a buck by pumping our food full of chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones. Then, the chain launched its online mini-series aimed at mocking and slandering farmers.
Chipotle has derided GMOs, slandered conventional family farmers, criticized the way we care for our animals, accused of mistreating the environment, and a whole host of other vile and baseless accusations.
Here’s an idea Chipotle: try cleaning up your own house first.
You’ve engaged in a smear campaign against family farmers for years now. The truth is, the things you’ve rallied against to build your brand are things that no one needs to be worried about. Scientific consensus and loads of research have demonstrated that GMOs are just as safe as their non-GMO counterparts. Conventionally produced food is just as nutritious as organically produced food, and just as safe for your family to consume. And all of the meat sold in our country is free from antibiotics.
But you’ve used these popular narratives to confuse consumers, create misleading headlines, and boost your own stock.
Perhaps all of that time and money spent on your nasty public relations campaign would have been better spent on the things that really matter – like improving your food safety protocols to make sure that people aren’t regularly getting sick at your restaurant. Instead of utilizing fear related to fake problems and concerns, you could be dealing with problems that really exist and really harm people, such as the ones making your customers sick right now.
US farmers should be proud of the product they create, the same can’t be said of Chipotle.