Last month, Chipotle had a significant E. Coli scare, during which they were forced to temporarily close 43 of their storefronts in the Pacific Northwest. The root of the bacterial outbreak was identified as the use of some of the unprocessed, fresh ingredients that Chipotle is known for.
Unfortunately, it seems that this event may have led to some changes in policy. Chipotle has always stressed their choice to use local ingredients, a move which set them apart from other fast food establishments of their ilk. Their recent health scandal has sparked more rigorous prerequisites for ingredients. Chris Arnold, who spoke on behalf of the company, explained that Chipotle is “not sure that all of the current local suppliers will be able to meet those elevated protocols.” This may mean that a bedrock principle of the chain will be compromised.
Though no final decisions have been made, the organization’s website has removed a section of their mission statement which previously explained the importance of sourcing local ingredients, replacing it with a passage extolling the significance of creating and maintaining lasting relationships with food purveyors.
The change in rhetoric has been attributed to the fact that purchasing local ingredients is a seasonal endeavor which doesn’t necessarily apply during the winter months in most places in the country. So, nothing is certain, but this action may not bode well for Chipotle’s grassroots commitments.
Photo by Michael Saechang.