Chipotle: Problems In The Food Industry

Food is the most basic of human needs. We can’t survive for long without eating and drinking water. It is why investing in a food-related business is one of the most profitable investments you can ever make, as people eat three times daily at the very least. But despite food being a vital necessity in our lives, numerous issues affect it too, so it is not always an assurance your business will prosper. Various food franchises and businesses have since closed down over the years for various reasons.

Aside from economic factors that entrepreneurs have to consider when running their businesses, problems with health and the people’s changing lifestyle influence the type of businesses that succeed in the market. It’s mainly because a lot of the ailments that bother humans these days are because of our lifestyle. People are becoming more health-conscious and some won’t hesitate to spend a lot for an expensive organic salad than eat at their favorite burger joint or avoid indulging in junks and sweets like they used to. Then, there are other random incidents like food poisoning that can damage a fast food or restaurant’s reputation that may eventually lead to their closure.

Chipotle’s food safety woes are not over.

The chain confirmed Tuesday that several customers who ate at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Sterling, Virginia, reported symptoms of norovirus after eating at the chain.

So far eight cases between July 14 and July 17 were reported to, a website that allows users to report when they get sick after eating at a restaurant. Business Insider was alerted to the issues at the restaurant by the site, and then published a story. Customers reported symptoms such as vomiting, severe stomach pains, diarrhea, dehydration and, in some cases, hospitalization.

Jim Marsden, Chipotle’s executive director of food safety, said that the company has notified local health department officials of the incident.

“Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle. We plan to reopen the restaurant today,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “We take every report of illness seriously. In accordance with our established protocols, our team is working to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, including voluntarily closing the restaurant yesterday to conduct a complete sanitization.”


The reputation of a food-related business is on the line every time there are negative reports blaming them of customers getting sick from the food they serve. And it’s actually not the first time for Chipotle to get involved in such a controversy because they’ve suffered from a similar problem about two years ago and is actually just starting to make big bucks again. It’s a good thing they haven’t entirely closed down because of this because other smaller shops and restaurants have gone bankrupt because of similar incidents.

Two years after a string of food safety incidents battered sales and scared away diners, Chipotle Mexican Grill still isn’t on solid ground.

While the beleaguered burrito chain has returned to profitability and its same-store sales have begun trending in a positive direction, its successes have been overshadowed by a data breach, overtime pay lawsuits and drug charges being brought against a senior manager.

“While these things do not deter customers as much as a food poisoning outbreak, they do raise questions about how well the company is managed and suggest a lackadaisical approach,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, told CNBC via email.

In the hope of luring back lapsed customers, Chipotle continues to invest heavily in marketing and promotions. In an SEC filing last month, the chain said that it would be increasing its spending in these areas, saying expenses would rise as much as 0.3 percent as a result.


The company has been doing damage control ever since but it is not always that easy to pull off especially that social media can quickly escalate things these days. The public is easily scared by issues like this and they tend to avoid that specific shop or store up until they forget about the issue and no similar incident happen soon after, which is the problem of Chipotle because it happened yet again. It’s no wonder they can’t win back many of their loyal customers after these outbreaks happened nor are they able to attract new customers to become their new patrons. It might be true then they weren’t able to fully recover from the E. coli incident back then and only time can tell how their business will fare amidst the tough competition in the food industry.