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Burrito Blight

There are few things in life that truly make me happy. Traveling the world, punk tunes with power choruses, and the Atlanta Falcons with a winning record, to name a few. But above all else, nothing can brighten my mood more than a delicious Chipotle chicken burrito—and that’s why this news is so (incoming pun) difficult to digest.

Chipotle is dealing with an E.coli outbreak that has shuttered 43 of its restaurants in Seattle and Portland. So far, over 20 people have contracted the bacteria after dining at the chain, and its stock—and image—is suffering as a direct result.

Reports show that company stocks have fallen about $2.5 billion dollars since the outbreak was first reported, but the negative press may be the deleterious to the burrito chain over time. Chipotle touts itself as a “green” eatery—GMO-free ingredients, proteins from farm-raised, cage-free animals. Earlier this year they even halted the sale of carnitas (delicious, delicious shredded pork) when it was discovered that their supplier was housing its pigs in cages. Their reputation as a “natural” restaurant with organic ingredients is extremely important to their overall brand.

So what would be the last thing you want when you promote yourself in that fashion? Patrons getting sick from your food. This could negatively impact the Chipotle name for a long-time to come, because it casts doubt on their entire business model.

Most customers will tell you that they’d readily trade GMO-free ingredients for E.coli-free ingredients.

So that will be the struggle for Chipotle going forward. Will they be able to weather the storm of bad press?

Full disclosure: I’ll still be stopping in from time-to-time for a burrito as big as my head.

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