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Chipotle Hires Former Critic Amid Efforts To Promote Food Safety

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Chipotle Mexican Grill's efforts to safeguard products and patrons against health scares involved hiring a former critic who scrutinized the company's response to its disease outbreak in 2015.

Chipotle recently hired David Acheson, a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture official, as an adviser.

Moreover, the company said they are working with food safety consultant David Theno, who is a former executive at Jack in the Box credited for solving the chain's 1990s E. coli outbreak crisis.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said the company retained the two experts last year. He did not share the exact date of the hiring nor the scope and details of the experts' duties.

"We have committed to establishing Chipotle as an industry leader in food safety, and we have assembled an extremely capable team to help us achieve that goal," added Arnold.

The aftermath of Chipotle's E. coli and norovirus outbreak in 2015 continues to take its toll on the fast food chains' reputation. Apart from the huge drop in stocks, Chipotle's fourth quarter earnings were also disastrous.

The fast food chain blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for misleading the general public about Chipotle's stance on food safety due to the numerous and frequent crisis updates in 2015.

Chipotle said the public notices acted "to create public panic." The fast food chain added that in certain cases, the public notices were made to look as if the E. coli crisis was still ongoing when in reality, the problem has been solved.

"CDC believes that the web postings served to protect and inform the public as well as inform public health and regulatory partners at the federal, state, and local level about this ongoing outbreak investigation in three ways," the CDC wrote in a detailed response letter [PDF].

The CDC highlighted that the web updates provided the public with information on who may have been affected after eating at a Chipotle branch. People may need this data so they can seek medical help and avoid secondary transmission. The postings can also aid in determining other infected people who may give new and important information about the specific cause of the outbreak. Finally, the announcements can help the general public protect themselves from possible exposure, said the CDC.

Photo: Mike Mozart | Flickr

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