The US based burrito chain Chipotle (pronounced Chi-pot-le), which suffered many food poisoning outbreaks in through the latter part of 2015, took the dramatic step on 8th February last of closing down all 1,900 restaurants for four hours for staff retraining.
In 2015 the company suffered a norovirus outbreak in California sickening 243, a salmonella outbreak in Minnesota and Wisconsin sickened 54, an e-coli outbreak across 11 states sickened 60, and a second norovirus outbreak in Boston sickened 143.
Talk about having a bad year!
While the norovirus outbreaks were attributed to ill employees coming to work, the salmonella outbreak was reported to originate from tomatoes, and the cause of the e-coli outbreak remains unknown even after extensive investigations.
The not unsurprising outcome is that sales in the final quarter of 2015 were nearly 15% down.
Reputation and trust has been severely damaged as confirmed in responses to a recent poll conducted by The Daily Meal:
- I’ve never eaten at Chipotle, and I’m not about to start now: 5.9%
- I’ve cut back on dining there, but haven’t completely stopped: 6.8%
- I held off during the outbreak, but will start eating there again now that it’s over:13.8%
- It didn’t affect my Chipotle addiction at all: 21.8%
- I’ve stopped dining there completely: 46.5%
The big question now is with nearly half of all respondents swearing off Chipotle completely, can the business recover? More updates to follow.