By now you have heard of the E. coli outbreak that sickened more than 50 Chipotle customers. Even though a specific cause has not been identified, the handling and transportation of fresh meats and vegetables may have contributed to the rash of sicknesses linked to Chipotle. The logistics of moving fresh food across the country is daunting in good weather; throw in storms, refrigeration unit breakdowns and rail delays and you have the recipe for not-so-fresh foods reaching restaurants. With Chipotle, they are changing the way they handle their food to minimize further outbreaks. According to Candice Choi, an AP Food Industry Writer, Chipotle prided themselves on “fresh produce and meats rather than frozen,” and traditional cooking methods instead of “automation.” Chipotle noted that perhaps this made them more prone to foodborne illnesses.
To tighten quality control of their foods, Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said they are implementing the following changes:
• Cheese will now arrive in restaurants shredded.
• Ingredients like onions will be macerated with lemon or lime juice to kill germs.
• 60 samples of every 2,000 lbs of steak will be tested before being shipped to stores.
• Tomatoes, cilantro and other ingredients will be chopped in centralized locations rather than in stores.
• Onions, along with lemons, limes and jalapenos will remain chopped in restaurants but will be blanched to kill germs.
Chipotle’s website lists other actions have been taken as well:
• Conducted additional deep cleaning and sanitization in all of the restaurants nationwide.
• Confirmed that none of the employees in these restaurants had E. coli.
• Implemented additional safety procedures, and audits, in all of its 2,000 restaurants to ensure that robust food safety standards are in place.

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