25/02/2016 | John Brennan

Why did Chipotle close its doors for a day?

25/02/2016 | John Brennan

Why did Chipotle close its doors for a day?

Mexican restaurant chain, Chipotle, closed its doors for an entire day earlier this month as part of a nationwide food safety crackdown, with all of its staff expected to attend a safety presentation at hotels, theatres and conference venues across the country. But why?

Chipotle has made headlines on several occasions over the past twelve months — and for all the wrong reasons. The restaurant has suffered a series of high-profile norovirus outbreaks both in the UK and the US, prompting many to question the brand’s food safety policy and its on-going risk management.

After being slammed by the media for the most recent bout of norovirus contracted in one of its seven UK-based stores, Chipotle’s managerial staff thought it time to take immediate action, scheduling an urgent food safety meeting to update its staff on new food safety procedures.

According to Chipotle’s Co-CEO, Monty Moran, two out of the four most recent incidents were caused by norovirus outbreaks. Norovirus typically occurs as a result of a staff member falling ill whilst at work, subsequently so much of the presentation centred around the importance of staying off work when ill or vomiting.

However, the norovirus incidents at the beginning of 2016 were nothing compared to the events of October 2015, in which one Chipotle customer in the US contracted E.coli food poisoning as a result of eating undercooked meat. This serious food safety infringement has led to a decline in sales across all Chipotle chains, a fact which contributed to the firm’s management choosing to shut up shop at the beginning of February.

Commenting on Chipotle’s recent fall in profit and poor financial performance, Steve Ells, chairman and founder of Chipotle, said the “fourth quarter of 2015 was the most challenging period in Chipotle’s history,” and that the firm is now resolutely focussed on reducing its food safety risk “to a level as near to zero as possible” by 2017.

Chipotle, which operates over 2,000 stores in the US, UK and Germany, was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1993, and specialises in Mexican-style burritos, tacos and salads. It’s not yet known whether the firm will be able to totally recover from the recent food safety infringements, with the most recent financial report forecasting gloomy times ahead for the once-loved chain.

Chipotle’s misfortunes highlight the fundamental importance of a stringent and comprehensive approach to food safety compliance — no matter how small or large your organisation. At Shieldyourself, we specialise in helping businesses across the hospitality sector achieve full food safety compliance, and have a proven track record in facilitating appropriate food safety measures for several major food chains, including Yo! Sushi.

To find out more about how we can help your business achieve full food safety compliance, visit our homepage or call us on 020 3797 2311.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official food safety, health and safety or fire safety advice. Shieldyourself take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shieldyourself services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email sales@shieldsafety.co.uk.