It's been a tough year for Chipotle. The burrito chain has been dealing with the fallout from its E. coli outbreak for what feels like eons now. And while the company has completely re-done its food safety protocol, Chipotle has also lost a reported $6 billion off its market valuation in the process. In an effort to win back customers' trust, and ensure that no more outbreaks are on the horizon, the company has hired an all-star team of food-safety experts to consult and advise the burrito giant.
According to a report from Reuters Wednesday, Chipotle has enlisted the help of David Acheson, a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official, and David Theno, a food safety expert and former Jack in the Box executive. Theno is largely credited with saving Jack in the Box after a massive E. coli outbreak infected 623 people in the western U.S. in 1993. The hires come shortly after the pick-up of James Marsden, a former professor of meat science at Kansas State University, who Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said would have “primary responsibility for our food safety programs.”
And while both experts are highly respected in their industry, neither has been too pleased with Chipotle in the past. Acheson, in particular, was critical of how the burrito chain initially responded to the E. coli and norovirus outbreaks that stemmed from its locations.
Today marks Chipotle's annual company meeting, where food safety will no doubt be a topic of concern. But according to Don Schaffner, a food-science professor at Rutgers University, Chipotle hired the right people—just too many of them.
"If I had to put together a dream team to fix something, you could do a lot worse,” Schaffner said. “I’ve begun to wonder a little bit about too many cooks. Each of those guys is going to have a perspective on what to do to fix the problem.”
Whatever the results are, these new hires show how dedicated Chipotle is when it comes to repairing its image, its food, and, of course, its bottom line. Whether the food safety version of the Golden State Warriors will be effective or not is yet to be seen, but hey, at least there's still free burritos.