Following the recent E. coli, norovirus and salmonella outbreaks affecting more than 500 people nationwide, Chipotle will close all of its stores Feb. 8 for a food safety meeting to achieve better food handling standards.
The franchise was cleared to be free of contamination by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Feb. 1, but its reputation is still marred after hundreds of people were affected across 10 states in 2015.
To counter this, the company is doubling the amount of free food each store will be giving out to win their consumer base back.
“Since the outbreaks, the restaurant chain has doubled the amount of free food the stores can give away to customers,” said co-CEO Monty Moran during an interview at the ICR conference, a closely watched investment conference that attracts retailers and restauranteurs.
Chipotle has not released an exact number as to how much free food has been given out, but by giving edible incentives to their consumers, they are planning on winning back their old fan base.
“It is understandable that with so many cases throughout various stores, customers would be wary of returning,” said Dr. Natalie Winter, associate professor of marketing at California Baptist University.
The food safety meeting will focus on bacterial contaminations that will establish Chipotle as a leader in food safety following the subpoena by a federal grand jury.
“Closing the stores seems to be primarily a publicity strategy in order to ensure customers that they are instituting safer practices,” Winter said.
Mannedel Gomez-Cruz, senior electrical and computer engineering double major, said she agrees with the decision to close stores to ensure proper food handling procedures at every Chipotle location.
“It’s good that the restaurants are closed for these types of information sessions; not all employees receive proper training, and this will benefit them to prevent further outbreaks,” Gomez-Cruz said.