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It's Not Worth Freaking Out Over Chipotle's Food Poisoning Reports

It's Not Worth Freaking Out Over Chipotle's Food Poisoning Reports

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There have been a number of foodborne illness outbreaks this summer, but Chipotle's case is a little different.

So it's natural for some Chipotle fans to wonder if they should stop visiting their local store following reports that more than 600 diners have come forward reporting gastrointestinal symptoms, especially after an outbreak of norovirus at one Chipotle in Boston made national news in 2015.

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But there are a few differences between these initial reports and other news of widespread foodborne illnesses.

While upwards of 630 reported cases of illness is nothing to scoff at, all of these reports are based on one Chipotle location just outside of Columbus, Ohio—and since the Delaware General Health District began their investigation into why so many people were feeling ill, that location has since closed down for a complete scrub down, per Chipotle's updated safety measures.

Furthermore, officials working on behalf of the Delaware General Health District in Powell, Ohio, haven't yet identified the cause. Tests for foodborne illnesses such as salmonella, shigella, E. coli, and norovirus have all come back negative, pushing officials to look for other possible leads, according to TIME.

More on foodborne illnesses currently making headlines:

Two of those who have reported sickness are now suing the chain. In late July, locals Filip Syzller and Clayton Jones ate tacos and a burrito bowl, respectively, before falling violently ill and seeking medical treatment, the Washington Post reports. Ron Simon, legal counsel representing Szyller and Jones, says more than 100 people have contacted him to file additional lawsuits.

While these lawsuits are alleging that Chipotle hasn't done enough to ensure food safety, a previous federal inquiry into the chain's practices in 2015 prompted more than 2,000 Chipotle locations to close for food safety training back in February 2016.

The bottom line: Staying up to date on foodborne illness reports from federal agencies is important, as new, vital information is often released as updates after initial announcements. But the current information on these cases suggest that, unless you're heading to the one location in Ohio, you shouldn't swear off Chipotle just yet.

Share All sharing options for: The Postmates Problem: Why Some Restaurants Are Forced to Fight the Delivery App

In this iPhone era of ultra convenience, restaurant delivery is in the midst of a renaissance. Taco Bell, Dunkin' Donuts, and many more are getting in the game with their own drivers, and round every bend, it seems like there's another service roaming the streets: GrubHub, Seamless, Bite Squad, Eat 24. Of these food couriers, the four-year-old San Francisco-based Postmates has particularly won press for snagging Starbucks and Chipotle among its many accounts, and just last month it reported another $80 million in funding, bringing its total valuation to nearly half a billion dollars.

Postmates is unique among delivery services in that in the 70+ U.S. cities where it operates, it will actually shuttle nearly anything (not just food) from a store or restaurant to a customer's door. In 2011, Postmates co-founder and CEO Bastian Lehmann told CBNC he was inspired by the question, "'What if you can use the city as a warehouse?' . A huge part of the mission was to give retailers in cities better weapons to fight against Amazon [shipping goods across the country], because you know what? They've been bullied around."

Sounds like a noble start, except for one caveat: Postmates doesn't ask for permission from the restaurants whose food it delivers. "Bottom line, we don't want to have delivery [at certain restaurants], and if we did, we'd do it ourselves," says Seattle restaurant owner David Meinert of Lost Lake Cafe, 5 Point Cafe, and Big Mario's. "We don't like the way Postmates represents our business, and don't trust their staff is properly handling our food." Instead of asking permission, Postmates links consumers with restaurant listings through the local search and discovery service app Foursquare, takes orders, then calls them into restaurants and sends its couriers to pick them up. Restaurants are understandably wary of that arrangement, and some in Seattle and San Francisco are starting to speak out — including to lawyers.

Postmates's "Featured" restaurants page in Seattle.

Here's how Postmates works: "Every merchant starts their journey on the platform as anonymous," says Anand Dass, Postmates's director of business development. "It's initially a conversation between a customer who wants food from that restaurant and a Postmate who has the resources and the time to go pick it up on behalf of the customer." Within the Foursquare-linked system, a consumer has the power to either search for a certain restaurant or input an address into the system. Once an address is in the system, according to Dass, it's in. Therefore, as soon as restaurants are on the app, it's not in Postmates's power to remove them — and even if it was, Dass says, it could be added back in by a customer.

Postmates then asks restaurants that have been popular on the app if they want to partner up in its Merchant Program. When a restaurant joins that program, either after being approached by Postmates or inquiring about partnership, Postmates works with business owners to tweak their presence on the app and features those menus under a city's "Featured" landing page. Postmates helps restaurants choose the menu items that travel the best and helps establish the way couriers pick up and deliver orders. Postmates then cuts the partner's delivery cost to $4.99 (otherwise it ranges from $7 to $20) and takes a commission off sales (10 to 20 percent, depending on various factors).

These other brands don’t work with restaurants without a contract, and Postmates does a huge portion of its business that way.

This Merchant Program is in line with how Eat 24, BiteSquad, and GrubHub and all its brands (including Seamless) work: They first approach restaurants to build a partnership, discuss how to market them most effectively, then take a commission off sales for their services. The difference is that other brands don't work with restaurants without a contract, and Postmates does a huge portion of its business that way.

Meinert says he first noticed Postmates last fall, when a customer complained about getting a delivery order "that was wrong and cold" from Lost Lake. "I was concerned, because we choose not to do delivery [there], as some of our food items don't hold up well in a container over time," Meinert says. "We also purposefully don't do take-out orders at certain times we are busy. Our business is centered around sit down, full-service [dining] and the bar, and we don't want the kitchen to get overwhelmed with to-go orders."

As a result, Lost Lake called Postmates and asked that it be removed from the app. It was, and Meinert thought the issue was over. This May, however, he received another complaint about a delivery order and realized that Lost Lake was back on Postmates. He called the company again, but this time was told (very nicely, he stresses) that it was impossible to take the restaurant off because of its Foursquare-linked design. In Seattle, Niko's Gyros, Tango, and Local 360 have also been unhappy with the service and asked to come off of Postmates, unsuccessfully.

A menu for a Featured restaurant.

For Meinert, it's not just that Postmates is delivering without his permission it's that he feels they are misrepresenting his brand. Meinert says that the menus Postmates has posted for all his restaurants are incorrect, with either wrong prices or with items the restaurant no longer offers. When Meinert asked where Postmates acquired the menus, the merchant support representative told him "from a public source" online.

Dass confirmed that, and elaborated that Postmates tries to pull menus from restaurant websites whenever it can. When there are problems with the menus, he invites all merchants to call Postmates's merchant support line and says the company tries to correct issues as quickly as possible. Dass is clear that this hotline is available to all merchants on its app — whether or not they are partners through the Merchants Program. And yet, "we're a start-up, we're a small company, and we're growing as fast as we can, so we have to prioritize our resources," Dass says. "Operationally we start prioritizing [partners] ahead of anyone else on the platform." (Meinert says that although he spoke to Postmates almost two months ago, his menus are still incorrect.)

Chipotle is now a partner through Postmates's Merchant Program, but the relationship hasn't always been so amicable. In 2011, Chipotle sent the then-new company a cease-and-desist letter Postmates ignored it and kept delivering the chain's food. "Over time that they warmed up to the idea — first of all, that there is a very persistent start-up run by a very stubborn, persistent German founder and an equally stubborn American co-founder," Lehmann told CBNC in April. "And, on top of that, we showed them that we can deliver the quality that they want."

About the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Leming— as well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

No one wants to hear Taco Bell and salmonella mentioned in the same sentence.

However, in 2010, a man from Michigan sued the parent company of Taco Bell. He ate four beef tacos and afterward got dangerously sick with salmonella. After having to handle a bunch of expensive hospital bills, the dissatisfied customer felt like Taco Bell should pay up. Consequently, law firm Schmidt & Clark revealed that over 150 people in total were affected by the bad beef over the span of a few months.

Chipotle's minimalist design was more about saving money than being cool

Numerous fast food restaurants have been updating the look of their spaces in recent years. From Wendy's renovating their stores with recycled materials to Hardee's trying to give their stores a facelift that "celebrates small-town America," minimalism in the fast food restaurant layout is in more now than ever. Chipotle has been adhering to this design aesthetic for years though, with its exposed piping, and abundance of stainless steel and plywood. While the look may be cool nowadays, in the beginning, it was more about saving a few bucks.

"There was not a lot of money for a lot of flourishes,"Ells told Entrepreneur. "We had to make use of some very basic materials but have those materials speak to this brand that I was creating."

Many of the materials for those first few stores Ells bought from local hardware stores in the Denver area. Choosing to use more raw and bare bones building materials is something that the Chipotle founder sees as being parallel with the brand's focus on its rather simplistic menu. "You see the raw ingredients," Ells said. "Then you elevate these raw ingredients, hopefully into something special."

With over 1,000 restaurants these days, the company now has an architectural firm handle the designs — though Chipotle locations still feature a lot of steel and plywood. It's sorta their vibe.

CEO of Burrito Joint That Recently Poisoned Hundreds Of People: "We're Gonna Be The Safest Place To Eat"

As some of you may have heard, Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) has come under fire over the last several months for the small matter of infecting a mess of patrons with norovirus. Most recently, it took down over 100 students at its location near Boston College. Not so surprisingly, poisoning more than 3-figures worth of customers has not done wonders for the company&aposs stock price, which has plummeted from an August high. One guy who&aposs not at all worried about Chipotle&aposs financial health? Founder and chief executive officer Steve Ells, who told NBC as much yesterday.

Asked whether the company could recover financially, Ells said �rtainly.”

Another thing Ells isn&apost worried about? Clinching the title of "Cleanest Goddamn Restaurants On The Face Of The Earth" at industry award shows, despite having hospitalized many, many people since August.

“This was a very unfortunate incident and I’m deeply sorry that this happened, but the procedures we’re putting in place today are so above industry norms that we are going to be the safest place to eat,” Ells said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” program. He added that the new food safety procedures the company is putting in place would put it 10 to 15 years ahead of industry standards.

No, really, you&aposre gonna want to eat off the floors. It&aposs borderline illegal how clean they&aposre gonna make these things.

Ice cream at any fast food place can be kind of sketchy, and Sonic is no exception. A Reddit user said that most of the time no one receives proper training on maintenance or cleaning of the ice cream machines.

They also said that once they actually have the time to clean it, they found mold. Everywhere. That's a no from us. Maybe that’s why they put ice cream in quotations on the signs.

Timing Is Everything

Indoors, you can safely leave a sandwich out for up to two hours after making it, according to the USDA. After that, bacteria starts to multiply rapidly. In hot weather the margin of safety is cut to one hour. Don't take chances. Refrigerate sandwiches or pack your lunch box with an ice pack. If a sandwich feels warm to the touch, don't eat it. These guidelines go for all prepared lunch foods, including potato salad, yogurt, baked beans and even green salad. Shelf-stable foods, such as potato chips and cookies, can be stored at room temperature.

Thread: Chipotle

Registered User Join Date: Jan 2010 Location: San Diego, California, United States Posts: 70,417 Rep Power: 138085

goodnight sweet caloric intake

brb website says 4oz rice = 120 calories

brb worker scoops in 1000 calories worth of rice

brb lie to yourself "well better add a extra 50 calories to myfitnesspal to account for that extra 2lbs of rice"

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Registered User Join Date: Jan 2010 Location: San Diego, California, United States Posts: 70,417 Rep Power: 138085 Lifting Vicariously Join Date: Apr 2013 Location: Kansas, United States Age: 37 Posts: 22,393 Rep Power: 94893

Domicron's Basement Gym and Fun House

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Registered User Join Date: Jan 2010 Location: San Diego, California, United States Posts: 70,417 Rep Power: 138085

The fact that you work in a legit restaurant that serves amazing food, yet believe this (if not trolling) baffles me.

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Registered User Join Date: Jan 2010 Location: San Diego, California, United States Posts: 70,417 Rep Power: 138085

But they're "Food with Integrity" according to.. Chipotle

Until they start offering refried beans as an option, i'll always opt for FreeBirds.

Lifting Vicariously Join Date: Apr 2013 Location: Kansas, United States Age: 37 Posts: 22,393 Rep Power: 94893

it's not a joke, i'd take Chipotle food over just about all the other fast food restaurants out there. i haven't had it in a little while, but their food tastes good.

the biggest irony is that the recent food poisoning incidents lead them to get away from locally sourced farms and suppliers and forced them to use centralized food processing plants like the other fast food places.

Pocket “Insider Profits”—Legally

Although you have picked some beautiful stocks over the years, imagine if you had known when to let your best ever stock picks run…

Near their absolute PEAK… with the juice squeezed out of them.

How much would this be worth to you and your loved ones?

The fast-food giant was forced to close 43 restaurants in nine states after diners contracted a bacteria-based illness from eating their food. To make matters worse, a few weeks later, 141 Boston College students (including more than half the men’s basketball team) got sick from eating at a Boston Chipotle after contracting a different virus, something called norovirus.

Chipotle Stock Rally Halted

Needless to say, that wasn’t good for Chipotle stock CMG tumbled 44% in three months. Sales suffered too, declining for four straight quarters after years of consistent double-digit growth. Chipotle didn’t return to top-line growth until the fourth quarter of last year.

When growth returned, so did investors: after bottoming below 360 last November, CMG stock was knocking on the door of 500 this May—a 38% jump in just over six months! Perhaps more importantly, there were no further cases of Chipotle’s food making its customers violently ill.

Until two weeks ago. The company had to close a restaurant in Sterling, Virginia, for two days after 133 diners fell ill due to what health officials classified as norovirus. Then last week, video was captured at a Dallas Chipotle of mice falling from the ceiling and running around the restaurant. Yikes!

Okay, so the latter incident is more of a freak occurrence (and a comical one) that could probably happen anywhere. But the timing was horrible. Investors again bailed on Chipotle stock in droves, resulting in a 15% drop in CMG in the last 10 days. At 342 as of this writing, the stock has broken below its 2016 lows, and appears to be in freefall.

Amid all this drama, Chipotle will report earnings after the bell today (Tuesday) afternoon. Analysts are expecting a very strong quarter, with estimates of 19% sales growth and 151% EPS growth. But I’m not so sure a strong quarter from Chipotle can stop the bleeding in CMG stock.

While the first set of food-poisoning outbreaks could be easily deemed an aberration, even if it took some time for Chipotle customers to return, a second occurrence looks more like a trend. Mice aside, we’re talking about one rogue restaurant where customers contracted norovirus. It seems unfair to completely write Chipotle off based on an outbreak in one of its 2,250 locations. But at this point, Chipotle has lost the benefit of the doubt in the minds of the American public—and certainly on Wall Street. Thus, I think the selloff in Chipotle stock will continue for some time.

CMG Is Sick Again

No, I don’t think CMG stock is dead, just like Chipotle itself, it will bounce back. But with trust eroding, it could be a while. Last time, it was a full year before Chipotle stock found bottom, which coincided with four straight quarters of negative sales growth. If the company’s top-line resurgence continues in the current quarter, then perhaps this downturn in CMG will be much shorter lived. But last quarter’s earnings are virtually irrelevant, so don’t expect a turnaround to commence this week even if it beats optimistic estimates.

Bottom line: though beaten down stocks can often become attractive bargain opportunities for value investors, Chipotle stock is simply too toxic (or should I say poisonous?) right now. Like the food in its Sterling chain, I wouldn’t touch it.

Watch the video: Investors cant stomach Chipotle after food poisoning outbreak (November 2022).