Here’s One Smart Thing Chipotle’s Doing To Boost Food Safety

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In the wake of an extremely rough 2015 that saw its restaurants face E. coli outbreaks and problems with salmonella and norovirus, Chipotle has instituted one smart change at drink stations.

In at least some locations, the lemon wedges that were once presented in a bin by soda machines have now been moved behind the kitchen counter. The Street’s Brian Sozzi captured the shift at one location on Twitter: 

“Don’t be sour,” a sign reads. “We still have lemons, they’re just behind the counter now. Please ask us if you need one.”

While Sozzi didn’t identify the location at which his photo was taken — and Chipotle has yet to respond to questions about how far-reaching the change is or will be, including an inquiry from HuffPost — Quartz did a little digging and verified lemons have been moved at locations in Manhattan, central Los Angeles, and Lakewood and Tyler, Texas. One patron shared that lemons at a Chipotle in Washington, D.C. were still placed by the beverages, but individually contained: 

This change is significant if you like to squeeze a little citrus into your soda or atop your guac, and those who’ve become dependent on the free accoutrement ought to feel relief. Oftentimes, restaurant lemon wedges can serve as home to a host of bacteria.

A study in the Journal of Environmental Health found that 70 percent of wedges it examined contained microbial growth. Another study conducted for ABC News by Philip Tierno, a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU, found that 50 percent of lemon wedges from 10 restaurants in three different states were contaminated with human fecal matter. In this same test, E. coli, staphylococcus epidermidis and candida, a fungus commonly found in the vagina, were all discovered on the fruit. Um. 

Experts chalk this contamination up to restaurant employees not washing lemons or their own hands properly. Now imagine these restaurant lemon wedges in a communal bin, coming in contact with the hands of many customers: Chipotle’s old way of serving lemons was nearly begging for contamination.

While Chipotle hasn’t identified the food source responsible for its E. coli outbreaks (and lemons are probably not the culprit), this safety measure can’t hurt. It’s probably just one of many Chipotle will address in its company-wide food safety meeting Monday: 

Chipotle previously announced that it will be blanching onions to kill possible germs and marinating meats only after-hours to the reduce risk of contamination. In addition, many ingredients will be first prepared in centralized kitchens rather than individual restaurants to help ensure health safety. 

H/T GrubStreet

6 Things You Didn’t Know about Chipotle

6 Things You Didn’t Know about Chipotle

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There Are No Franchises
Nearly every fast food chain is franchised, with some locations owned by the company and others owned by independent restaurateurs. Like In-N-Out, however, Chipotle doesnt franchise out any of its locations; theyre all company-owned. Photo Credit: Chipotle

There Are No Franchises
Nearly every fast food chain is franchised, with some locations owned by the company and others owned by independent restaurateurs. Like In-N-Out, however, Chipotle doesnt franchise out any of its locations; theyre all company-owned. Photo Credit: Chipotle
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They Burn Through a Ton of Avocados
Want guacamole on that? So do a lot of other people: Chipotle uses 100,000 avocadoes per day, some contributed by a farm thats owned by none other than singer-songwriter Jason Mraz. Photo Credit: Thinkstock Click Here to see the More Things You Didnt Know about Chipotle Mexican Grill
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Their Hiring Criteria is Very Strict
According to Ells, employees must be “polite, hospitable, smart, ambitious, curious, happy, respectful, honest, presentable, conscientious, motivated, infectiously enthusiastic, and have high energy.” Judging by one of the lowest turnovers in the business, Chipotle does a good job of finding employees who not only meet those qualifications, but really want to be there. Photo Credit: David Sundberg
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Their "Musical Identity" is Well-Curated
Every month, DJ Christopher Golub creates a 500-song playlist that gets pumped through the sound system at every location. Photo Credit: iStock/ Thinkstock Click Here to see More Things You Didnt Know about Chipotle Mexican Grill
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All Their Advertising is Done In-House
It’s nearly unheard-of for a company as big as Chipotle to shun ad agencies when coming up with advertising concepts, but they’ve done just that. While their ads aren’t nearly as ubiquitous as those of McDonald’s or Subway, the ads they’ve released have been unique and effective, usually touting the virtues of small-scale farming. Photo Credit: Chipotle
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One Man Designed all the Interior Dcor
Bruce Gueswel was one of Ells’ old college friends, and he designed every table, chair, and Mayan-inspired sculpture in every location, even the first. If you want one of the Mayan sculptures, you can purchase one for a price between 350 to 900 USD. Photo Credit: David Sundberg Click Here to see More Things You Didnt Know about Chipotle Mexican Grill
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Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/02/08/chipotle-lemons-wedges-food-safety_n_9189150.html