The Chain Gang

Chipotle Blames the CDC for ‘Public Panic’ Over Its E. Coli Outbreaks

Drama queen?
Drama queen? Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Chipotle will try anything to get back in customers’ good graces, whether that’s burning up $62 million in free burritos or apparently blaming the “public panic” during Chipotle’s nine-state E. coli outbreak on the CDC. Back in December, company lawyers sent a complaint letter demanding the agency scale back the dangers it had linked to eating Chipotle’s food. They argued the CDC’s reports were “patently inaccurate” in places, and just in general functioned to “unnecessarily intensif[y] the public’s concern” about ending up with a tainted burrito. They also blamed the CDC for setting off “a drumbeat of news stories that made it appear illness was spreading when it was not.” According to Bloomberg, Chipotle wanted a public correction, and even suggested putting the kibosh on new updates until agency officials could address the chain’s concerns.

Doesn’t look like this worked out in Chipotle’s favor: The agency never stopped issuing updates, and finally responded with a letter of its own in mid-April (which it just now made public). The letter said that, in the CDC’s humble professional opinion, these reports were part of its job to ensure public safety, since E. coli can cause a potentially serious illness and the details “provided information the public might use to protect themselves by choosing to avoid certain food exposures associated with the outbreak.”

Chipotle says it’s decided not to fight the ruling, so guess that means all the money’s on that loyalty program now.

[Bloomberg, Reuters]

Chipotle Blames CDC for ‘Panic’ Over E. Coli