Free burritos are not enough to erase Chipotle’s reputation for having a foodborne illness outbreak known as E. Coli. The company is giving away massive amounts of free burritos to lure customers back in to make up for their loss of revenue due to the E. Coli outbreak. According to an article from CNN, the company “only pulled in a $68 million profit in the last three months of 2015, plunging 44% compared to the same time a year ago.” It is no wonder why Chipotle is desperately handing out free burritos in hopes to reel customers back into buying their so-called “Food With Integrity.”
As I searched Chipotle’s website, the slogan “Food With Integrity” can be found all over the site. On their website, Chipotle defines this slogan as, “our commitment serving the most delicious ingredients we can find, raised responsibly and prepared using classic cooking techniques.” I thought to myself, how can you praise your “Food with Integrity” when, according to your own website, there was a foodborne illness outbreak in eleven different states? To me, eleven states impacted is a red flag that this is not just a problem in one specific location, but an internal problem in your company’s safety and health regulations.
The information about the E. Coli outbreak on Chipotle’s website to me seemed vague. It lists exactly which states reported the foodborne illness. It also goes on to say how “no E.coli was ever detected in Chipotle food or on surfaces in restaurants.” I think Chipotle is just trying to make the situation not seem as bad, so people do not think there is E. Coli floating around all these restaurants. However, later they explained, “there is often a significant lag time between the time someone eats food contaminated with E.coli and the time symptoms appear.” Therefore, the E. Coli was likely gone from the restaurants by the time these tests were conducted. Regardless, it was still there at some point.
Now the company’s attempt to get people back in and eating is costing them a lot of money. According to Business Insider’s website, “The company is expected to spend roughly $70 million on free burrito offers between February and May 15.” To me, free food is just a desperate attempt to get people in. Usually, I see the action of giving out free food carried out by brand new companies trying to get their name out there. Free burritos is Chipotle’s way of begging customers to come back.
I believe that Chipotle can hand out as many free burritos as they want, but it is not going to fix their reputation any time soon. Many people already refuse to ever step foot back inside a Chipotle ever since the company made headlines for being unsanitary. It is an unfortunate outbreak for a business that used to do so well. Unfortunately for Chipotle, I think it is going to take a lot of time to improve their numbers from their loss of sales due to the foodborne illness. The free burritos might be grabbing some attention, but no amount of free food will speed up the process of recovering from their sales slump.