Chipotle backs off its local-ingredients policy after E. coli scare

New Yorkers Hesitant To Eat Chipotle After E. Coli Cases Expand To State

Chipotle executives have tightened food-safety standards in response to November's big E. coli outbreak, and a pair of unrelated norovirus and salmonella scares before that. The chain's updated protocols require more vigilance from suppliers on the health-hazards front, which is understandable. The side effect is these higher standards could also jeopardize the chain's well-established commitment to buying local ingredients. In an email to Bloomberg, spokesman Chris Arnold explains the predicament: "We have elevated requirements for all of our produce suppliers (chiefly in the area of testing of ingredients) and we are not sure that all of the current local suppliers will be able to meet those elevated protocols."

Additionally, the chain's "Food with Integrity" page formerly explained its commitment to buying locally. That portion's now gone, replaced by a bit stressing the importance of reliable, long-term relationships with suppliers. Arnold explained to Bloomberg that they switched it up for two reasons: "because we are not entirely sure what it will look like next year given some changes we have made," and also "because the program is largely out of season." In fact, Chipotle's program for buying locally runs from June to October — aka the time of year when things actually grow — in most parts of the country, Arnold explains, so who knows? Maybe it will reappear in some form next summer.

Learn more about recent E. coli cases:

E. coli cases and food poisoning
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Chipotle backs off its local-ingredients policy after E. coli scare
BOSTON - AUGUST 23: Colony of E. coli cells are grown in the synthetic biology lab at Harvard Medical School in Boston on Tuesday, August 23 2011. (Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
ELIOT, ME - MAY 26: Kyler Dove, a seventh grader at Marshwood Middle School in Eliot, stops to take a drink from one of the 11,520 water bottles donated to the school Tuesday, May 26, 2015 by Cumberland Farms. Home Depot and Hannaford have also made donations to the school as it manages the current E coli scare. (Photo by Jill Brady/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - MAY 23: A shopper looks for bottled water on nearly empty shelves at a New Seasons Supermarket May 23, 2014 in Portland, Oregon. Oregon health officials ordered Portland to issue a boil-water alert after three separate samples tested positive for E. coli, a bacterium that can cause severe gastrointestinal illness. (Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)
Jack Kurtz, 10, right, and mother Paula Gillett pose for portrait in their Rockford, Illinois home, November 5, 2009. Jack recovered from a food-borne illness last year. The source of the E. coli that hospitalized him was never determined. (Photo by Lane Christiansen/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
Madison Sedbrook, 6, right, and her mother Cindy are in their home at Highlands Ranch on Tuesday. Madison's parents are suing because she got e coli from eating raw cookie dough recalled by Nestle. Hyoung Chang/ The Denver Post (Photo By Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - FEBRUARY 21: A BJ's Wholesale Club awaits customers on February 21, 2007 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Yesterday, the giant wholesaler announced a voluntary recall of prepackaged Wellsley Farms mushrooms, due to possible trace amounts of E.coli. No cases of the illness have been reported. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)


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