Scandals Chipotle Can Never Live Down

Scandals Chipotle Can Never Live Down


Chipotle is a popular fast-food restaurant in the United States. Since its inception in 1993, this Mexican food restaurant has grown from a modest burrito stand to a countrywide chain, attracting so many investors that it was once bought out (and then sold) by McDonald’s.

Scandals Chipotle Can Never Live Down

Chipotle’s success can be attributed to a variety of factors. Its slogan, “Food with Integrity,” is readily identifiable, and the utilization of fresh products will be very enticing to customers who want anything else than greasy burgers from fast food.

Similarly, Chipotle’s menu options but decent scope for choice and customization have been praised for the chain’s success, as has the firm’s rejection of traditional franchising, with the company exerting a tight control on each restaurant and how it’s handled.

But that’s not to say Chipotle hasn’t had its share of problems over the years. Despite the company’s extraordinary level of success for a relatively new fast food business, it has been plagued by a number of scandals and controversies.

Some of which have threatened to shut down the company’s entire functioning. These are the scandals that Chipotle will never be able to overcome.

Chipotle’s Food Poisoning Outbreaks

The numerous food safety violations that have afflicted Chipotle locations around the country have been by far the most visible and damaging controversies. And by many, we mean a lot. Seriously, the sheer quantity and frequency of these incidents is difficult to overstate.

Chipotle's food poisoning outbreaks
Dr. Douglas Powell, a former Kansas City University food safety professor, wrote a blog post in 2007 warning that Chipotle’s usage of antibiotic-free food was little more than “hucksterism,” and that the company was essentially a ticking time bomb for a foodborne illness outbreak.

And, indeed, Dr. Powell was proven correct. Chipotle experienced five significant outbreaks in the United States in 2015.

July, five people got E. coli in Seattle; in August, 234 people got norovirus in Simi Valley, California; and in August and September, 64 people got salmonella from a store’s tomato supply.

October, 52 people were infected with E. coli across the country, and in December, at least 136 people were infected with norovirus in Boston. In 2015, at least 350 people were ill after eating at Chipotle.

After that, almost 650 people became ill with clostridium perfringens after eating at a single Chipotle location in Ohio in 2018.

Chipotle suffered severe effects. Chipotle’s stock plunged, CEO Steve Ells was forced to quit, and the business agreed to pay $25 million in government fines for its role in these incidents in April 2020.

Chipotle Violated Child Labor Laws

You’d be hard pushed to identify a large fast food restaurant that hasn’t occasionally violated American labor rules. Chipotle, on the other hand, appears eager to raise the bar on unscrupulous corporate practices, such as when the company was fined $1.3 million in January 2020 for breaching child labor rules.

Chipotle violated child labor laws

Chipotle was found to have committed an estimated 13,253 child labor violations in over 50 restaurants by the state of Massachusetts.

Minors aged 16 and 17 frequently worked past midnight, and in some cases worked more than 48 hours per week. In addition, the business has a propensity of hiring juveniles without work permits.

Chipotle was eventually ordered to pay a roughly $2 million settlement. This included the $1.3 million fine for child labor offenses, which is the biggest child labor punishment in Massachusetts history.

as well as a multitude of sanctions for other labor abuses, such as sick time violations and failure to pay salaries on time. In addition, the corporation voluntarily contributed $500,000 to a state youth worker fund.

“Chipotle is a major national restaurant chain that employs thousands of young people across the country, and it has a duty to ensure minors are safe working in its restaurants,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement.

We hope that these citations send a message to other fast food businesses and fast food corporations that they cannot violate our child labor rules and endanger young people.”

Chipotle Was Accused of Taking Advantage of Workers

The City of New York said in September 2019 that it would sue the fast food business for breaking its Fair Workweek Law, which requires fast food companies to notify their employees of their weekly plans at least two weeks in advance. Any changes to those schedules must be agreed upon in writing by the employees.

Chipotle was accused of taking advantage of workers

The announcement followed a complaint filed by more than 30 current and former Chipotle employees who were dissatisfied with the company’s inability to maintain acceptable working conditions.

Steve Vidal, for example, worked at Chipotle for two years before leaving, owing in part to frequent last-minute adjustments to employees’ work schedules — as well as a number of cases in which management reduced hours for any employees who complained.

Vidal worked at one of five stores in New York that were suspected of breaching the law. New York City has also initiated investigations into suspected abuses at 11 other Chipotle locations throughout Manhattan.

“Chipotle has been working cooperatively with the city to ensure we have systems and processes in place to comply with the law,” said the company’s chief reputation officer in a statement, “so we believe the filing of charges was unnecessary.”

Chipotle’s shares dropped 6.1 percent as a result of the lawsuit, wiping out some of the gains the firm had made since the food poisoning episodes of the previous few years.

Chipotle Lost Customers’ Data

If you had to pick between getting food sickness and having your data taken, you’d probably choose the latter, but it’s probably not much more pleasant. Just ask the “stream” of customers who claimed their online Chipotle accounts were hacked in 2019.

Chipotle lost customers' data

Chipotle customers flocked to Reddit and Twitter to report that hackers had accessed their accounts and used their personal credit card information to place fraudulent purchases worth hundreds of dollars.

Chipotle spokesperson Lauria Schalow told TechCrunch that the breach was caused by a technique known as “credential stuffing,” in which “hackers take lists of usernames and passwords from other breached sites and brute-force their way into other accounts.”

However, several customers told the outlet that their password was unique to Chipotle, implying that there was another side to the tale. One client stated they had no Chipotle account and had ordered using the website’s guest checkout.

When TechCrunch brought this up with Schalow, she stated that the firm is “monitoring any potential account security issues of which we’re made aware and continue to have no indication of a breach of our customers’ private data.”

“However, she refused to commit the company to implementing two-factor authentication on their website, which, according to TechCrunch, would solve the problem of credential stuffing.” “We don’t discuss our security strategies,” Schalow said emphatically.

Chipotle Completely Botched a PR scandal

The video in question showed the manager of a Minnesota branch requesting that a group of black guys pay for their lunch ahead of time, but a white female customer was permitted to buy her food as usual.

Chipotle completely botched a PR scandal

“So Chipotle gonna sit here and tell me I can’t eat because they think I look like someone who stole from them before?” one of the group members tweeted.

So Chipotle dismissed the manager and trained the staff at that restaurant to “ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

” However, a few days later, the firm reversed its response with another announcement, this time saying the manager had been reinstated.

Chipotle explained that this was due to the customer in issue, who claimed he was misdiagnosed as a dine-and-dasher, actually discussing dining-and-dashing at Chipotle on social media.

This inevitably attracted a new level of attention to the corporation and kept the subject in the news for several days longer. By the time the dust settled, Chipotle had alienated almost everyone engaged in the controversy.

Using “Compostable” Bowls That Will Never Degrade

When The Counter published an article claiming that the bowls contained cancer-linked compounds with no known half-life, dubbed “forever chemicals.”

Using compostable

All molded fiber bowls, including those used at Chipotle, contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are molecules that do not biodegrade naturally, according to specialists consulted by The Counter. In actuality, by adding chemicals to the soil and water, these chemicals are most likely rendering the compost toxic.

The Counter tested fiber bowls from a variety of New York restaurants, including Chipotle, and discovered elevated amounts of fluorine in all of them, indicating that they had been treated with PFAS compounds. These chemicals, in essence, keep the bowls from collapsing when they come into touch with heated food.

However, in addition to their negative influence on the environment, the worst types of PFAS substances can cause colitis, thyroid issues, and other malignancies.

Fortunately, Chipotle committed to introducing new compostable bowls that are both safe and environmentally friendly in March 2020.

“We’ve been working closely with our suppliers to develop new food packaging that is sustainably sourced, functional, compostable, and free of PFAS,” the business stated in a statement. We hope to have this new packaging in our restaurants by the end of the year.”

Chipotle Illegally Fired a Worker

In 2018, an ex-Chipotle employee won a large settlement after suing the corporation for wrongfully terminating her. Jeannette Ortiz was dismissed from a Chipotle restaurant in Fresno, California, in 2015. Chipotle claims she was dismissed for stealing roughly $600 from a company safe. The next litigation, however, revealed a different story.

Chipotle illegally fired a worker

Chipotle supposedly had video that purportedly captured Ortiz robbing the bank, but when Ortiz sought to see it (and the company was ordered to provide it in court), they insisted they had taped over the footage.

Ortiz claimed, however, that she was falsely accused as retaliation for filing a worker’s compensation claim after falling ill and for standing her ground when a supervisor allegedly pressured her to embellish the nature of her injuries.

A lawyer for Ortiz referred to the theft accusation as “ridiculous,” saying that she had received favorable performance reviews and that company executives had looked into elevating her to a position that would have increased her salary from the $70,000 she was already making as a general manager by $30,000 more.

Despite Chipotle’s offer of $1,000 to settle the case, Ortiz declined, and a jury eventually ruled in her favor. Ortiz was later granted $8 million, which is roughly the amount she would have earned working at Chipotle for 114 years.

Chipotle Has Been Accused of Pocketing Customers’ Change

A little pocket change can be very useful, but it’s not exactly cool for a firm like Chipotle to illegally pocket consumers’ change.

Chipotle was accused of shady business practice of pocketing customers’ change in August 2020, apparently persuaded it’s some kind of small Dickensian villain.

Chipotle has been accused of pocketing customers' change

According to TODAY, a lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania claimed that Chipotle had directed its staff “to round up the amount of change due to customers who paid with cash and then keep the remaining balance.”

According to the lawsuit, “Chipotle engages in a corporate policy of misappropriation of consumer funds and unfair trade practices by refusing and failing to provide proper change or credit to consumers using cash to make purchases at Pennsylvania Chipotle stores without legal justification.”

“For example, one plaintiff handed over a $20 bill at a Chipotle location for a $8.72 order.” However, instead of the $11.28 owing to him, he received $11 in change. Another customer received $4 in change after paying for a $15.51 transaction with a $20 cash.

According to the lawsuit, this firm approach resulted in customers losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in petty change.

Chipotle representative Laurie Schalow declined to comment on the complaint with TODAY, but stated that during the ongoing national coin crisis, establishments low on change will only accept exact change or non-cash payment.

Chipotle Wasn’t a Friend To Farmers

The Chipotle was entangled in an issue over tomato pickers’ rights in Florida in 2009. Chipotle refused to sign a farm workers’ rights agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a nonprofit that mediates rights agreements between workers and corporations and dismantles American field slavery, for longer than Taco Bell and McDonald’s.

Chipotle has been accused of pocketing customers' change

um Brands, McDonald’s and Taco Bell’s parent company, agreed with the CIW to buy tomatoes solely from growers who pay their workers an extra penny per pound and respect other basic rights.

Chipotle refused the CIW’s request because they intended to give workers every money.

The CIW argued that the corporation might take a cent per pound from escrow for these Floridian agricultural workers at any time as their promise was not binding. Chipotle joined the CIW’s Fair Food Program 11th.

which boosted farm employees’ wages and mandated a code of conduct to protect them from labor exploitation and health and safety hazards.

Chipotle Was Charged With Lying About Calorie Counts

After all of the dodgy labor practices, food poisoning outbreaks, and mismanagement of customer funds, lying about calories does not appear to be the most evil thing Chipotle has ever done.

Nonetheless, the corporation got itself into a lot of difficulty in 2016 when it did exactly that.

Chipotle was accused of lying about calorie numbers

The 300-calorie spicy chicken and pork sausage burrito contained white rice, black beans, tomato salsa, and cheese. A soup and light salad lunch normally has 350 calories.

The plaintiffs claimed that the burrito had more, and Chipotle’s nutritional calculator showed that each component had over 1,000 calories.

Chipotle agreed not to advertise chorizo burritos as having lower calories and gave each plaintiff $5,000, ending the litigation in October 2017.


What is the first scandal that Chipotle faced?

In 2015, Chipotle faced an E. coli outbreak that affected 11 states in the United States, leading to 55 people getting sick. It was linked to the consumption of food items like chicken, beef, and pork at Chipotle restaurants.

What was the reason behind the E. coli outbreak?

The source of the E. coli outbreak was traced back to contaminated produce, specifically, the raw vegetables used in the preparation of the food items. The contaminated produce was believed to be sourced from a supplier in California.

Was the E. coli outbreak the only scandal that Chipotle faced?

No, it was not. In 2017, a norovirus outbreak occurred at a Chipotle restaurant in Virginia, where 135 people got sick. The outbreak was linked to a sick employee who had worked while ill.

Did Chipotle face any legal actions due to these outbreaks?

Yes, Chipotle faced several lawsuits related to the E. coli and norovirus outbreaks. The lawsuits alleged that the company was negligent in its food safety practices and failed to take adequate measures to prevent the outbreaks.

What steps did Chipotle take to address the food safety concerns?

After the outbreaks, Chipotle implemented several measures to improve its food safety practices. These included changes in food preparation and handling procedures, increased testing of ingredients, and enhanced employee training programs.

What other scandals has Chipotle faced?

In 2018, Chipotle faced another food safety scandal, where customers reported getting sick after eating at a restaurant in Ohio. The company temporarily closed the restaurant and conducted an investigation, but no specific cause was identified.

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