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QSR magazine has an excellent piece about how Chipotle continues to deal with the food safety problems that sickened hundreds of people last year and through a major wrench into its financial performance, as the problems undermined its value proposition of "food with integrity."

The outbreaks, the story says, "have led many to believe that the brand’s focus on wholesome, simple ingredients belies a slew of operational challenges associated with its labyrinth supply chain of small farms and suppliers. Now, many are left wondering: Is it possible to scale a brand built around fresh, locally sourced foods?" And, QSR writes, "Experts say the various outbreaks linked to Chipotle raise underlying questions about the viability of its model and the number of fast-casual concepts that have similarly constructed their identities around fresh and locally sourced ingredients."

One expert tells the magazine that he "thinks Chipotle’s reaction may even undermine its core concept. By blanching, chopping, and sealing some ingredients like tomatoes in central locations before sending them off to stores, Chipotle has begun to resemble the national distribution models of the massive restaurant chains it originally sought to repudiate."

And it is an enormous potential problem when a brand has to undermine the core values that made it special.

You can read the entire story here.
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