E.coli Happens

Chipotle's Betrayal

Sh!t You Should Know | Steph Alpaca | November 4, 2015

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Whether it’s once, twice, or three times – along with many millennials today – Chipotle is a staple in my weekly routine. There’s just something about that beautifully stuffed burrito paired with the illusion of a healthy fast-food option that keeps us wanting more. It’s almost like a relationship in my life (pathetic, I know…whatever). Sometimes I come home (to Chipotle) after a long day and she doesn’t have chips on the table and I’m disappointed. Other times, Bae (Chipotle) hands me the most perfectly constructed bowl I’ve ever seen that it’s practically glowing and I can even save some to eat for lunch the next day. It’s a constant tug and pull. But, now Chipotle has taken it too far. E.coli?! WTF!? This isn’t f**kin Taco Bell.

Chipotle, we need to talk. And it’s not me, it’s you.

Within the past few days, 43 Chipotle restaurants have closed in Oregon and Washington due to an E. coli outbreak. What. the. F. Oregon Public Health officials are saying this is most likely due to contaminated produce. Maybe you’re wondering, “What is E.coli anyway, do I care? I still want a burrito for lunch…is that bad?” Here’s a breakdown for all you Chipotle addicts.

E.coli or Escherichia coli, according to the World Heath Organization, is a “bacterium that is commonly found in the gut [a.k.a. digestive tracks a.k.a. feces a.k.a. SHIT] of humans and other warm-blooded animals. While most strains are harmless, some can cause severe foodborne disease.”

Basically, this shit is gross and can get you sick. And so far there have been at least eight hospitalizations, and currently 37 confirmed cases of people sick from E.coli related to dining at the “fast-casual” restaurant. Over the past few days, the number of people sick from E.coli has been continuously rising but no deaths have been reported as of yet.

Where was this E.coli found? Officials are starting to say it’s coming from the veggies. Does that mean it’s in the GUAC??? **cue mental breakdown** Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold stated, “Produce is certainly a possibility, but we are not going to speculate on what the cause may be while the investigation is going on.” Classic. 

However, The Center for Disease Control says usually for E. coli, “mishandling at multiple points along the food production chain is sometimes at the root of an outbreak. After a food is contaminated, further mishandling, such as by undercooking or leaving it out for too long at an unsafe temperature, can result in an outbreak. Many pathogens grow to high numbers in just a few hours at room temperature.” So, basically maybe they weren’t refrigerating the guac properly as they were transporting it to the store or something like that. To which my response is, if your mishandled guac is what is giving everyone E. coli, then at least don’t charge us extra for it, dammit. 

How serious is this? What are the symptoms? Can I die? Well, according to the Mayo Clinic “most varieties of E.coli are harmless or cause relatively brief diarrhea. But a few particularly nasty strains can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.” Yuck. Although healthy adults almost always recover from an E.coli infection, young people and the elderly have a greater chance of it causing kidney failure. So, please hold Grammy back from her Chipotle fix for a little bit.

Chipotle, famed for its “food with integrity” campaign highlighting naturally-sourced ingredients and outstanding, environmentally friendly practices has now betrayed us. How do we feel? What do we do? WHAT DO WE EAT? Do we need to breakup with our favorite burrito?

It seems as of now that the outbreak is only concentrated in the Pacific Northwest. So, if you “accidentally” had Chipotle for dinner last night like I did (oops), are we at risk of getting E.coli? Probably not. But . . . we’re not completely sure  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Chipotle says it sources its food regionally and I believe them. However, they are not very transparent in what specific farms actually supply each store. When researching online, I couldn’t find anything about it and when I contacted our neighborhood Chipotle, the manager said he was unable to disclose that kind of information.

I wish I could tell you exactly what mom-and-pop farm your guac and fajita veggies are coming from. I want to tell you, “Go ahead and get that extra scoop of chicken and corn salsa so the Chipotle worker strains a muscle trying to roll it up,” but it’s hard for us Chipotle lovers to know exactly where the ingredients in our bowls are coming from.

So, for now we just have to trust ChipotBae to not let this happen anywhere else and as consumers, be aware of this shit so you don’t get shitted on. Pun intended.