Wednesday, December 09, 2015
A restaurateur's nightmare is poisoning people who eat his food. Even worse is the inability to find out what caused it. Add to that a failure of the logistics chain that delivers ingredients to make sure foodstuffs are not contaminated. All three crises are underway at the restaurant chain, Chipotle. It can't get a break. The poison is E. coli bacteria that somehow has worked its way into its food from the West Coast to the East. A headache for the chain is its dedication to using fresh, locally sourced, organic ingredients, so it can't go to one or two suppliers and trace the contamination to its roots. It is dealing with dozens if not hundreds. This has compromised the firm's strategy and marketing appeal. There is little for the company to do now than to work as quickly as it can to pinpoint the source or sources of the bacteria and to get the restaurants operating again. Almost certainly, Chipotle will have to modify policies and procedures to prevent future outbreaks and this might compromise its marketing message, but better that than a collapse of the entire business.