It’s Not Easy Being Green: Chipotle’s Food Safety Woes

After a discreet class action settlement, a precipitous tumble in stock value, and a couple thousand free burrito coupons, Chipotle is reporting that it can finally assure consumers its food is contamination free. While fans of the company’s mix-and-match style burritos and bowls are no doubt celebrating, others are questioning whether the damage has already been done to the restaurant’s reputation as a reliable source of quick and healthy meals.

For one thing, Chipotle’s post-scandal marketing campaign has done little to address the questions many customers have about the company’s food safety standards. The American-Mexican chain made headlines by giving away vouchers for free entrees to thousands of hungry devotees, a move that no doubt helped to further ingratiate the restaurant to existing fans but failed to prove convincing to less trusting customers.

Much of the difficulty that Chipotle has faced while trying to rehabilitate its image has to do with its reputation as an organic, environmentally friendly restaurant. While usage of preservatives and harsh chemical cleaners make it easier to keep food clean, doing so could put Chipotle at risk of losing its devoted organic-obsessed fanbase.

Although Chipotle is still working to regain its pre-Listeria popularity, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Recent tests conducted using high pressure water jets to clean bacteria and other contaminants off raw ingredients have produced positive results. By combining this technology with a series of safety checks, the chain hopes to clean up its act without compromising its eco-friendly status.

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