Six months ago anyone between the ages of 13-35 knew about Chipotle but until a recent http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/01/cdc-declares-chipotle-linked-e-coli-outbreak-over.html of E. coli Chipotle has become more known to all ages. There were two outbreaks that affected Americans the first outbreak being much larger than the second happened in 11 states and sent 21 to the hospital. For most companies this would be the end of them, but this wasn’t the case for Chipotle. With a surprising loyal fan base the company came back from this, to then have another outbreak. This outbreak being much smaller,was still was taken very seriously, and sent only one to the hospital. “In the first outbreak 55 people were infected by the foodborne illness in 11 states, of which 21 were hospitalized. The second, smaller outbreak, infected five people from three states, of which one was hospitalized.” (CNBC) Why is this company still so popular considering there have been two outbreaks in the past two months. Could it be they’ve created an addictive burrito? There isn’t any true answer to this question, personally it is what the company stands for and what they have done since the outbreaks. They were extremely honest, and open when the outbreak started. They took the necessary steps to earn the respect after such a scare, closing all stores nationwide and hosting a company meeting to make sure that this never happens again is a great first step. “We are hosting a national team meeting to thank our employees for their hard work through this difficult time, discuss some of the food safety changes we are implementing, and answer questions from employees,” (CNBC) To earn back the trust from there customers they did something that many companies wouldn’t, they took the lose and admitted to their problem. This explains why they have such a loyal fan base that hasn’t been affected much by the breakouts. “What our research tells us is that Chipotle has a strong loyal base from which to build its business back up relatively quickly,” (CNBC) While E. coli is something that should be taken very seriously and often times can destroy a company, Chipotle is still doing completely fine. This just proves that even if a company has an issue as serious as an E. coli outbreak taking the necessary steps to change the company and earn back the trust of your customers. Chipotle has always been a leader for customer service and having an open communication between the company and its customers.
Towards the end of last year, many Chipotle restaurants had to be closed temporarily due to an E. coli outbreak in Oregon and Washington. A total of 4 Chipotle-related food contamination outbreaks occurred last year all throughout the U.S., one of them being made public only after the outbreak was over. Surprisingly, Chipotle failed to notify its customers about the apparent food contamination, and actually may have received some cover up by the local Public Health. This resulted not only in the company losing billions of dollars over the course of a few months, but also the trust of loyal customers. Luckily for Chipotle, none of the cases developed into a more serious condition or result in death, which would have definitely cost the company more than just profit. More recently, the FDA, CDC, and local officials investigated the E. coli outbreaks and have concluded that all outbreaks appear to have ended.
Bill Marler, an accomplished personal injury lawyer, poses an interesting question: could Chipotle have prevented its huge economic downfall had they announced its food was contaminated? Many possible outcomes could have resulted, although all would have been better than its current situation. Had the company disclosed its findings, it would have lost some profit almost immediately, yet its credibility would not have been tarnished and it wouldn’t have to have faced heavy legal backlash. It also would have been able to recover from such an economic loss much quicker.
Food establishments must keep certain food standards, as is required by the law. By disregarding this basic tenet, Chipotle has shown carelessness, and thus it could be facing criminal charges. For being a very popular and powerful company, it was very disappointing for many to see it undergo such times. The company has a loyal base of customers and it should seek to keep them in order to retain its status. Chipotle’s founder Steve Ells apologized for the difficult times and has formulated a comprehensive food safety plan which promises to improve its food handling in various ways.
This also leads to a last worrisome question: what else are large food companies hiding from their consumers?
The article “If a Chicken Exists Only to Become Chicken Nuggets, Does it Really Matter How She Lived? The Connection Between the Humane Treatment of Animals, Health, and Food Safety” was recently published on the Huffington Post. The author, Elizabeth Kucinich, believes it really does matter how a chicken is raised mainly because of the effects it can have on consumers. The root of the problem is the unsanitary conditions most chickens are raised under and how these conditions lead to Salmonella or E. coli contamination in humans. To eliminate these risks, Kucinich suggests a law in which companies must regulate proper treatment of poultry. The problem with this is the unwillingness of factory farms to change their procedures due to productivity, money, and time. The chances of change are very slim because these businesses are in no hurry to slow down their procedures and spend more money on something that doesn’t appear to be a big issue (though Kucinich provides facts that proves it is). Along with this, a law is not likely to be passed because these farms have come up with a system that works very efficiently and effectively that the government only notices the money intake rather than the inhumane conditions.
In one respect, yes it does matter how a chicken lived even if it only exists to be slaughtered, because it directly affects those who eat it, but in another respect, it does not matter. I see another side to Kucinich’s points that she did not mention. I am a firm believer that animals do not and cannot have feelings or emotions. Yes I think they can experience torment and anxiety, but not sadness or dread, so in this regard, why would it matter how a chicken lived it’s life if it will inevitable be killed? It doesn’t know any better, so why treat it any differently than the methods of today? That’s where Kucinich points come into play. It’s not necessarily about the animal; it’s about the health of the person eating it. It makes me wonder what I’ve been eating my whole life, but also why haven’t I gotten sick? If it were really that serious, wouldn’t the government have gotten involved already? Though I do see the harm in our current food system, I still can’t change my habits until I see the harm with my own eyes, which I think is true for a lot of Americans. We can hear the facts and read the information, but often real change only occurs when we’ve faced a problem head-on.