February 2, 2016
Chipotle will host a national employee meeting on Feb. 8, to thank employees for their work implementing the brand's new food-safety programs in their restaurants. The meeting will also outline the steps that have been taken outside the restaurants to make Chipotle ingredients safer and will discuss what may have caused some customers to become ill in 2015, said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle.
"Over the last few months, we have been implementing an enhanced food safety plan that will establish Chipotle as an industry leader in food safety," he said "Most of the new protocols are already in place, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our excellent restaurant teams. Additionally, we have implemented unprecedented food safety standards with our suppliers, which make the food coming into our restaurants safer than ever before."
Chipotle's enhanced food safety program is the product of a comprehensive reassessment of its food safety practices conducted with industry leading experts that included a farm-to-fork assessment of each ingredient Chipotle uses with an eye toward establishing the highest standards for safety, Ells said.
He said the program's many components include: High-resolution DNA-based testing of many ingredients designed to ensure the quality and safety of ingredients before they are shipped to restaurants. Changes to food prep and food handling practices, including washing and cutting of some produce items (such as tomatoes and romaine lettuce) and shredding cheese in central kitchens, blanching of some produce items (including avocados, onions and limes) in its restaurants, and new protocols for marinating chicken and steak. Enhanced internal training to ensure that all employees thoroughly understand the company's high standards for food safety and food handling. Paid sick leave helping to ensure that ill employees have no incentive to work while ill.
The meeting will be broadcast live from Denver to hundreds of locations across the country. In order to allow all employees to attend, the company will be closing its restaurants for lunch that day. The restaurants will reopen nationally at 3 p.m.
"Chipotle is an established leader in our use of high quality ingredients—ingredients like Responsibly Raised meats, local and organically grown produce and pasture-raised dairy—and preparing our food using classic cooking techniques," Ells said. "Now, we are working to establish the company as the leader in food safety as well. Our employees will play a critical role in helping us achieve this goal and we want them to know how much we appreciate their dedication to this critical mission."
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