The source of that food-poisoning outbreak that sickened hundreds of people at a Powell, Ohio Chipotle may have finally been discovered. NPR reports that “Health officials have determined that a type of bacteria found in food left at unsafe temperatures is the cause of an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness that struck 647 people who ate last month at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Ohio.”
So it turns out that the way that Chipotle serves it food may be to blame, as infection from this bacteria, clostridium perfringens, “often occurs when foods are prepared in large quantities and kept warm for a long time before serving,” says the CDC. Culprits can include hospitals, schools, catered events, and, apparently, Chipotle’s open-air serving table. The resulting bacterial infection is not contagious and usually passes within a few days. So basically, food that’s not too hot, not too cold, but in a Goldilocks 109 to 117 degree Fahrenheit range, is susceptible to this bacteria.
In light of this news, Chipotle has announced that it will retrain its employees nationwide. CEO Brian Niccol said in a statement: “Chipotle has a zero-tolerance policy for any violations of our stringent food safety standards and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure it does not happen again.” This recent reveal certainly helps explain, though, why brand managers like Eric Schiffer just cite these types of Chipotle incidents as something that “is baked into the brand’s story.”