Chipotle is a huge chain of Mexican restaurants in the USA and has recently had significant food poisoning outbreaks, as a result a large number of the sites have been closed. The chain prided itself on having safe non GMO foods, but this appears to have overlooked the importance of making sure the food was safe in terms of preventing food poisoning.
The article below highlights the important question of what is the actual definition of safe food.
The article is from The Week and is included here with permission
“Can Chipotle recover from food poisoning” asked James Surowiecki in NewYorker.com. Arguably “the country’s single most successful restaurant chain,” the company is reeling from a series of food poisoning outbreaks that have caused its stock to plummet 25 percent. In November, Chipotle shut down 43 of its Mexican eateries in Oregon and Washington and in ensuing weeks, customers from seven other states “contracted food-borne illnesses.” The latest debacle came last week when at least 120 Boston College students who ate at Chipotle caught a highly contagious norovirus–a nasty stomach bug that causes projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea. The company touts its use of “fresh, often locally sourced, ingredients” for its tacos and burritos, which is part of the problem: Dealing with many smaller, organic local suppliers rather than a few large ones “makes the task of insuring food safety more complex.” In light of recent events, it also makes Chipotle’s slogan–“food with integrity”–sound “painfully ironic.”
Perhaps the company was too focused on creating the illusion of safety, said Kimberly Leonard in USNews.com. Chipotle boasts that its food is free of genetically modified organisms, which is fine–except that scientists say that GMO’s pose no known threat to humans. Better to focus on the E. coli, salmonella and other potentially dangerous microbes in lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro, which can make people sick. The company’s comeuppance is “well deserved,” said Henry Miller in Forbes.com. In all its self-congratulatory New Agey-ness, Chipotle “eschews high-tech pesticides” and “rejects modern synthetic fertilizers.” But food produced with modern techniques is actually “safer than food that reflects pandering to currant fads.” Chipotle’s negligence made people sick, and it needs new management; let’s see “if there’s a company left after the trial lawyers get through with it.”
– The Week