Earlier this week, Chipotle Mexican Grill closed more than 2,000 of its restaurants for four hours to hold a virtual town hall meeting with its employees in an effort to literally and figuratively clean up its act after a wave of foodborne illness outbreaks linked to various Chipotle restaurants across the country.
The company allowed two reporters – one from a wire service and the other from Fast Company – to sit in on the meeting. Restaurant officials also live-tweeted and shared photos of executives and employees during the meeting in an effort to be more transparent.
Chipotle founder Steve Ells announced a $10 million program to help small farmers who supply to the restaurant chain to help cover the cost of implementing the company’s new food safety system. These improvements, Ells said, would not only benefit Chipotle restaurants, but also other restaurants that purchase food from the same suppliers.
“That means even the ingredients they sell to other companies will be safe – and that’s good for everybody, not just Chipotle,” Ells said.
The efforts will be followed up with a major media campaign in an effort to regain customers’ trust.
Marketing experts say Chipotle’s efforts are a great start to redeeming its image and, eventually, building its profits back up after six food safety failures involving E.coli, salmonella and norovirus since July. More than 500 customers became sick during those outbreaks.
Even with new safety standards in place, Chipotle will still be cleaning up in other ways. The company is currently under a federal investigation over a salmonella outbreak linked to a single California location. The investigation could branch out to other locations, legal experts say. The company was also slapped with two lawsuits from customers sickened in separate outbreaks.
Source: NY Times