Food safety scientist predicted Chipotle’s E. coli outbreak 8 years ago

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The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Dr. Douglas Powell saw the Chipotle E. coli outbreak coming eight years ago.

In 2007, Powell, a former Kansas State University food safety professor who now publishes the popular and appetizingly-named Barfblog, was turned off by the growing chain’s emphasis on “naturally-raised meats” and “organic” ingredients.

“I’m never eating there again,” he declared in a Barfblog post. . .

“Kudos to Chipotle for capitalizing on hucksterism,” he explained at the time, citing what he perceived as the chain’s overuse of buzzwords. “But given the ubiquitous outbreaks of E. coli and Salmonella on spinach, lettuce, and tomatoes, I choose to purchase food from those who value and promote microbiologically safe food.”

In 2008, when Chipotle announced that it would purchase more locally raised produce, Powell cautioned again, “I’m all for local food, as long as someone is checking to ensure the microbiological safety of fresh produce. Local does not automatically mean safe.”

. . . In early November, the CDC and FDA investigated reports of infection linked to Chipotle restaurants in Washington and Oregon. More cases from the same window continued to be reported throughout the month and, on Dec. 4, the CDC updated the full list to include reports of illness in California, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania.

. . .Chipotle will now be preparing tomatoes, lettuce, and cilantro in a commissary and using a “sanitary kill step” to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. . .

But Powell believes that [Chipotle’s co-CEO Steve Ells’] commitment to “quality ingredients” shouldn’t have preceded Chipotle’s heightened focus on food safety.

Read full, original post: He Warned You About Chipotle in 2007

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