Chipotle Outlines Food Safety Plan with Full-Page Boston Herald Ad

'The fact that anyone has become ill eating at Chipotle is completely unacceptable to me and I am deeply sorry.'

Page 3 of today’s Boston Herald has no splashy headline or color photos—in fact, it’s actually a paid advertisement. But it will likely stop anyone who flips open the tab’s cover. Above a greyscale Chipotle Mexican Grill logo, the title reads “Comprehensive Food Safety Plan: A Letter from Chipotle Founder Steve Ells.”

The company’s chairman and co-CEO uses the Herald to outline Chipotle’s plans to “[become] known as the leader in food safety,” following a E. coli outbreak stemming from its stores in nine states, and a concentrated bout of norovirus linked to its Cleveland Circle restaurant. Ells’ first words of the letter are not “I’m sorry,” but he pens that personal statement in the second paragraph (and he has said it publicly before).

As a chef, nothing is more important to me than serving my guests food that is safe, delicious, and wholesome … But recent incidents, an E. coli outbreak that sickened 52 people and a norovirus outbreak that sickened approximately 140 people at a single Chipotle restaurant in Boston, have shown us that we need to do better, much better.

The fact that anyone has become ill eating at Chipotle is completely unacceptable to me and I am deeply sorry.

Ells says Chipotle is collaborating with “preeminent food safety experts” to reduce the risk of problems from farm to fork. It’s working with its suppliers to beef up their food safety protocols, too, he adds. Chipotle has assessed every ingredient in its kitchens, and has also looked at all internal procedures. Some improvements made so far are adding extra steps to kill microbial risk, rolling out new sanitation procedures, and introducing more training for its employees. These steps are detailed online.

“I believe our restaurants are safer today than they ever were,” Ells writes in his letter. “We are confident we can achieve near zero risk.”

Boston has asked Chipotle for a copy of the letter, and will share it here in full if it becomes available.