Chipotle wants your trust back.
After poisoning more than 500 burrito lovers from Seattle to Boston, Chipotle has lost sales, customers and profits. Which is why they are shutting down more than 1,900 stores this afternoon to review a rapid overhaul of practices that it hopes will eliminate outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella, and norovirus.
But is it really necessary? Is Chipotle's food safety record really any worse than other fast food restaurants?
The answer is, maybe. We don't know. Food safety issues are usually handled at the local level, and federal public health investigators get involved only when multi-state outbreaks are identified.
To make it even more complicated, some states limit the disclosure of implicated restaurants, making it difficult to learn about food contamination issues in your area.
Does it matter? Maybe. According to the CDC, about 48 million people -- one in six U.S. residents -- are sickened by tainted food each year, and nearly 3,000 die.
But let's assume Chipotle, which I fortunately boycotted in May 2015 when it began pandering to pseudoscience and scare tactics by removing GMOs from its menu, is now safer than other places. You trust them, and you want your free burrito. Here's what to do:
1. Text 'raincheck' to 888-222.
2. They will reply with a link, asking you for your name and zip code.
3. You submit your reply, and they send you a coupon for a free burrito.
I did it this morning -- it totally doesn't count as breaking my boycott on the anti-science movement if the burrito is free, right? And I'm looking forward to enjoying my free Chipotle burrito!
Want to know more about GMO safety? Check out this super informative yet succinct blog post by scientist Trevor Sorrells.
Want to know more about food, flavor, and science? Check out:
The Surprising Trait Carbs and Valium Have in Common
Why Connoisseurs Love Itchy, Burning Throats: The Surprising Science of Flavor
The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor
And if you want to learn more about GMOs and disease control, check out:
Scientists Have Invented a Way To End Malaria, Zika Virus, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya -- But Will the Western World Allow It?
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