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Chipotle tries to calm customers with more specifics

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After another Chipotle Mexican Grill was closed last week because of food-safety concerns, the chain revealed more of the precautions it’s taking to deliver on a promise of becoming the safest place to eat in the industry.

Those steps, revealed on the chain’s website, include blanching much of the produce it serves uncooked, and conducting safety audits on a weekly and quarterly basis.

Those moves to safeguard the food are in addition to such previously disclosed efforts as testing small batches of ingredients more frequently than state regulations warrant, and stepped-up safety training at all levels.

The various safeguards are currently being implemented, with a completion target for adoption chainwide of four months.

The assurances follow a possibly embarrassing chain of events last week, when Chipotle co-CEO went on NBC’s Today Show to apologize to customers who’d been sickened by the chain’s food and to assure them the chain was now safe. That same day, health authorities in Seattle said they were closing a store there because of repeated health violations, and had rated nine other local units “unsatisfactory” in their safety efforts.

Health authorities also revealed that a Chipotle customer had reported getting sick after eating at the chain last Monday, far past the date when the danger of an E.coli contamination had reportedly passed. But they could not confirm the allegations, and said they would investigate.

The chain indicated it’s aware that the public may be tired of the ongoing problems despite the reassurances. A list of safety-related frequently asked questions on Chipotle’s website included this query and answer:

Q: I’ve been so supportive lately, but just don’t know how much more of this I can take.

A: We understand that this incident has created a lot of confusion, and in some cases, concern. We are putting into place an industry-leading food safety plan and we will be sharing progress with our customers as this program continues to be implemented. We hope that our renewed focus will encourage you to give us another chance. 

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