Consumers are no strangers to foodborne illness and product recalls. In 2015, outbreaks were reported in everything from organic spinach to Blue Bell ice cream. A listeria or E. coli outbreak can spell disaster for companies, especially fast food chains that fail to get out in front of the outbreak. A foodborne illness can cost operations millions of dollars in lost sales, lawsuits and legal fees and negative media exposure, not to mention the cost of identifying and removing infected ingredients from the supply chain. Consumers often avoid the affected chain long after the outbreak ends. That’s not the case for Chipotle, however. Despite being in the midst of a major E. coli outbreak, the chain continues to enjoy strong public support.
What is Chipotle doing right, and what does their successful approach mean for other quick service restaurants and their copacking partners?