Chipotle customers might soon notice some slight changes to the taste of their burritos.
The company said Tuesday that it has made a number of tweaks to its food preparation in the wake of two E. coli outbreaks that sickened more than 50 people in 14 states.
Here’s what has changed:
1. Chipotle is now marinating chopped onions, jalapenos, and cilantro in citrus juice when they make salsas and guacamole.
“This process brings out more flavour from these ingredients and adds another measure of food safety,” Chipotle co-CEO Monty Moran said on an earnings call.
2. The chain is preparing tomatoes, lettuce and bell peppers in a central kitchen, so they can be tested, and then shipped to restaurants.
3. The company is still preparing onions, avocados, jalapenos, and limes in restaurants, but they are blanching those ingredients in boiling water to get rid of any harmful microbes before they are used to make guacamole and other items.
4. Chipotle is using a new procedure for marinating chicken and steak, “which now happens distinct from and after the preparation of other fresh items” in re-sealable plastic bags, rather than bowls.
5. The company is adding cilantro to its cooked rice immediately so the heat of the rice can kill germs.
The CDC announced the end to the E. coli outbreaks on Monday, but the impact on Chipotle is likely far from over.
The company’s same-store sales fell 14.6% in the fourth quarter ending in December, and Chipotle said same-store sales fell another 36% in January.
“The source of the outbreak has still not been conclusively identified,” said Neil Saunders, CEO of retail consulting firm Conlumino. “While it is unlikely that there will be a reoccurrence thanks to the extensive checks and safety processes Chipotle has put in place, the lack of a conclusive outcome will make it more difficult to rebuild consumer confidence.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.