Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. will pay $25 million to resolve criminal charges related to the company’s involvement in foodborne illness outbreaks that sickened more than 1,100 people between 2015 and 2018, according to the Department of Justice. This case highlights why it is important for restaurants and members of the food services industry to ensure that managers and employees consistently follow food safety policies. According to the factual statement in the DPA, which the company agreed was true, Chipotle was implicated in at least five foodborne illness outbreaks between 2015 and 2018 connected to restaurants in the Los Angeles area, Boston, Virginia, and Ohio.
For example, in December 2015, a norovirus incident at a Chipotle restaurant in Boston sickened 141 people. In July 2018, approximately 647 people who dined at a Chipotle restaurant in Powell, Ohio reported illness related to Clostridium perfringens, a pathogen that grows rapidly when food is not held at appropriate temperatures.
This incident clearly implicates that the priority to produce food economically and efficiently comes with a strong reason to produce safe food. Losses due to lost revenue in the case of food safety issues may far exceed the cost of maintaining safety. Lost revenues includes a missed opportunity to sell the products, cost of discarded products, business interruption, customer reimbursement and the biggest one is loss of credibility among the consumers.
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