“I’ll have a burrito with a side of E.Coli please” -PR Crisis

I’m sure everyone has heard of the tragic E. Coli outbreak that occurred in Chipotle resturants across the United States. If you are anything like me, you have been having “burrito bowl withdrawls” due to the famous Mexican grill closing down most of the resturants in the states that were affected. The FDA claims that majority of the E. Coli incidents have happened in Oregon and Washington in October of 2015 (Fda.gov, 2016). After the first outbreak, multiple stores were closed in order to keep the bacteria spreading from more individuals. To make a long story short, Chipotle has had a terrible year when it comes to keeping the food safe. The real question now arises- what did the Public Relations field do in this situation? The answer is A LOT.

This is a huge conflict for Chipotle. This restaurant takes pride in serving fresh produce which causes a bit of irony. Chipotles campaign “Food With Integrity” focuses on providing fresh meat from animals that are free to roam and injection-free as well as vegetables that are grown in fresh soil. This campaign made a large impact back in 2013 when Chipotle made a 3 minute, animated video on a scarecrow about the importance of fresh food.

The founder of the restaurant and CEO, Steve Ells, apologized on December 10th in an interview on NBC’s Today show:

“It was a very unfortunate incident, and I’m deeply sorry this has happened, but the procedures we’re putting in place today are so above industry norms that we are going to be the safest place to eat” (Zarroli, 2106).

On January 15th, Chipotle tweeted:

“We’re having a national employee meeting on 2/8 to discuss recent and future food safety changes. All US locations will be closed until 3pm” (Chipotle, 2015).

The timing is perfect- today being February 8th, I get to talk about what the Public Relations field is doing now after the nationwide meeting. Chipotle has made a hashtag to gain recognition for their efforts. #ChipotleAllTeam is now trending and the resturants are able to open at 3 pm today in time for dinner. The restaurant has been live tweeting throughout the nation wide safety meeting that all employees were required to sit through. They have been making promises to provide a safe place to eat and came up with a plan that involves food being tested before it reaches the restaurants. This is now in the recovery phase because they are trying to boost their reputation. I think that the company has done a great job tracking the issues and being proactive in keeping people updated. So far, consumers are excited to get back to eating their burritos in hopes that 2016 will be a better year for Chipotle. Although it has taken a few months to turn this crisis around and reopen stores, the Public Relations field kept the public updated and have been apologizing actively. With the large consumer interest and popularity that Chipotle gained throughout the years, I have full confidence that they will regain the trust of customers and be able to provide a safe environment for consuming high quality food.



Chipotle [ChipotleTweets]. (2015, January 15). We’re having a national employee meeting on 2/8 to discuss recent and future food safety changes. All US locations will be closed until 3pm. [Tweet]. Retrieved from  https://twitter.com/ChipotleTweets/status/688070991029780480

Chipotle.com,. (2016). Chipotle. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from https://www.chipotle.com/food-with-integrity

Fda.gov,. (2016). FDA Investigates Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O26 Infections Linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurants. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from http://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm470410.htm

Scarecrowgame.com,. (2016). The Scarecrow. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from http://www.scarecrowgame.com/film.html

Zarroli, J. (2016). After Chipotle Outbreaks, Will ‘Food With Integrity’ Still Resonate?Wbez.org. Retrieved 8 February 2016, from http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2016-01-25/after-chipotle-outbreaks-will-food-integrity-still


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