Recent outbreaks of Salmonella, norovirus, and E. coli have plagued Chipotle Mexican Grill. Back in November, an E. coli outbreak in two states was linked back to the restaurant, a near-devastating blow to the chain’s reputation. Since then, senior members at the company have espoused confidence that they will be improving their food safety standards to make sure that all of its fresh, locally sourced ingredients are safe to eat.
Now, it seems that the company is backtracking a bit and revising some of the procedures that it had put in place. The Wall Street Journal reports that Chipotle will discontinue tests on its beef. Instead, they will have their beef cooked at a centralized location to kill off any rogue bacteria and ship it to restaurant locations in sealed bags.
When it reaches the restaurant, employees will remove the beef from these sealed containers and cook it on the grill, virtually eliminating the risk of it being contaminated by other food products. If effective, the chain may also adopt a similar practice with its chicken.
While this change may seem practical, customers may be less than enthused by the policy change. If the new delivery system leads to the food tasting differently, consumers may show their dissatisfaction by taking their business elsewhere.
Although the food safety practices take primary importance for the company, it can’t discount how some of its policy changes will affect consumers. For example, in order to draw customers back in, Chipotle has started giving customers coupons and generous offers that amount to free food, a strategy that the Consumerist notes may train customers to expect great deals on a regular basis. Retracting these measures could result with consumer backlash in the future.