retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Published reports are focusing on Chipotle's continuing food safety issues, as some 80 Boston College students who ate at the chain's Cleveland Circle outlet there said they got sick. The reports come, the New York Times writes, "at a time when the fast-food chain was still grappling with an outbreak of E. coli that infected customers in nine states."

The store has been closed until further notice.

The Boston Globe reports that "the Boston Public Health Commission said Tuesday that initial testing by state officials has shown the presence of norovirus at the restaurant. According to a statement, the commission was only able to confirm 65 known cases, including Boston College residents, students, and non-BC patrons ... all of the students have been tested for E. coli and norovirus, though test results will not be available for at least two days."

Norovirus, the Times notes, "is the most common cause of gastrointestinal illness in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infecting as many as 21 million people and resulting in as many as 800 deaths in a year."

The Globe reports that there were at least two food safety violations found in the store - product being held at inadequate temperatures - as well as one employee who came to work while ill.

Chipotle management is saying that there is no evidence at this time that the Boston events are related to the broader E. coli issues with which it has been dealing.
KC's View:
It almost doesn't matter whether Chipotle thinks the Boston issue is related to other food safety problems ... because that's probably what many customers think.

I'm convinced that there are a growing number of people who are driving by Chipotle and making other choices, and who are asking their kids not to go there. It will take a lot of time to change this perception of Chipotle as a deeply troubled company.