Chipotle to Create Stricter Rules for Produce Suppliers After E. Coli Outbreak

Chipotle to Create Stricter Rules for Produce Suppliers After E. Coli Outbreak
Image credit: Monica Dipres

Chipotle Mexican Grill will soon have stricter guidelines for its suppliers that will mean the chain will be using local produce less often, a move the company is making in the aftermath of an E. coli outbreak that sickened dozens of customers in six states.

Chris Arnold, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail Wednesday that the company plans on formally releasing some of its changes in the coming days, if not sooner.

"We do expect that some of the local suppliers we have used will not meet more stringent testing standards we have put in place," Arnold said.

The decision to move away from the chain's preference for local produce, when available, for its burritos, salads and rice bowls is a significant shift for the fast-casual chain, which has prided itself on providing fresher ingredients than its competitors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last month that 45 Chipotle customers had been infected with the food illness in California, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Washington state. The majority of those impacted had eaten at restaurants in Oregon and Washington.

The company's stock price was battered in the aftermath of the E. coli outbreak, which led to the shuttering of 43 restaurants in the Pacific Northwest for nearly two weeks.

Chipotle stock had reached a peak of $749.12 in early August.

News of the shift in supplier rules was first reported by Bloomberg News.

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