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Free Chipotle Queso For Customers In Holiday Sweaters (Photo)


By Cooking Panda

Hark! The free queso sings.

On Dec. 12, the fast-casual Mexican restaurant will give away a free side of queso to anyone who orders an entree while donning the cheesiest of holiday sweaters.

Chipotle unveiled the giveaway on Twitter Dec. 6.

But Chipotle’s free queso offer isn’t the least bit appealing to some disgruntled customers, who claim the company’s Velveeta-less alternative is “utter garbage” and “a crime against cheese.”

The one-day giveaway comes after Chipotle’s unsuccessful attempts at an all-natural queso, which had been the Tex-Mex locale’s most requested menu item until it doubled down on a menu made exclusively of all-natural ingredients. Velveeta went and so did the cheesy dip’s popularity, despite tweaking and testing a new recipe. The first queso batch was ascribed a “gritty” texture and crayon-like flavor.

According to Grub Street, the queso has seen three recipe changes since barring artificial ingredients, but with little notice. One person on Twitter asked, “When is the recipe changing?” Another said, “You should consider a new queso, this ones kinda weak.”

Chipotle’s commitment to real ingredients is responsible for the odd texture and taste, but its latest recipe change is promised to be “creamier than the initial recipe, and still has a really delicious flavor,” according to company spokesman Chris Arnold.

However, customers did perk up at the prospect of free sides, just not queso. Guac, on the other hand? Now that’s worth wearing an embarrassing holiday sweater. A few people tweeted to Chipotle asking, “May I get free guac instead?? No me gusta el queso.” Chipotle clarified that the promotion will only cover queso.

Chipotle suffered a hit after multiple E. coli outbreaks across several states that garnered national coverage. Poor reviews aside, the company rose 17 percent in the last quarter, according to Grub Street, which comes after a long streak of declining sales.

Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle’s chief marketing officer, said the company’s new menu item increased sales with existing customers and attracted new, lapsed customers back into the restaurant.

Far be it for us to tell you how to run your life, but it’s simple: Chipotle really wants you to try their queso. And it’s free!

Sources: Grub Street, Fox 13 / Featured Image: Michael Saechang/Flickr

Tags: Chipotle, Free Queso
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This Is What Got Everyone Sick At Chipotle


By Cooking Panda

In mid-July, a bunch of people fell ill with norovirus after ordering their burrito bowls, quesaritos and what-have-you from a Chipotle in Virginia. After conducting an investigation, the Mexican-American chain said that the outbreak came down to one store not adequately following sick day guidelines, something that some Internet users said is a widespread problem with the restaurant.

“We believe someone was working while sick,” Chipotle CEO Steve Ells told US News.

After the outbreak — and a separate alarming incident in which mice rained down from the ceiling at a different location — the company’s shares have taken a hit as people question whether or not grabbing a burrito will make them violently ill, notes CNBC.

“We have policies that preclude people from coming to work sick, and are one of few restaurant companies that provides paid sick days for our employees [including hourly employees],” Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said in an email to CNBC.

Arnold added that Chipotle employees are now required to answer a few questions every day about whether or not they are feeling ill. If anybody has any symptoms, they are supposed to be sent home, he said.

But a number of Reddit users said that it’s commonplace for some locations to have a rain-or-shine policy when it comes to health.

“Two weeks ago [I] came to work, felt like I was going to puke, just felt awful,” one Chipotle employee at a different branch in Virginia said. “One of my managers told me if I don’t find someone to cover my shift, I’m going to have to stay. Mind you, my position was on line working with food.”

Another said that their boss “heavily implied” that their job would not be waiting for them if they needed to take a sick day.

“I’ve since had one of my managers tell us that they only abide by the sick policy about 40 percent of the time,” that person added. “Apparently since the sick policy worked for two years [it’s] ‘no longer necessary’ to make sure sick employees stay home.”

However, CEO Ells told US News that following proper sick day protocol is “non-negotiable” and has a “zero-tolerance policy.”

Sources: CNBC, US News / Photo Credit: Mr.TinDC/Flickr

Tags: Chipotle, Chipotle food poisoning, Chipotle sick, Chipotle sick day policy, norovirus outbreak
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Chipotle Is Making Its Diners Sick … Again


By Cooking Panda

Well, a bunch more people have gotten sick after eating Chipotle.

A Chipotle restaurant in Sterling, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., closed down on July 17 after a number of customers reported norovirus-like symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea, reports The New York Times.

As an added precaution, the fast-casual Mexican-inspired store remained closed until the following day to allow for cleaning and employee monitoring, David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department in Virginia, told The Times. In the meantime, a stool sample was sent to a lab to test for norovirus.

“We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” Jim Marsden, Chipotle’s executive director of food safety, told Business Insider. “The reported symptoms are consistent with norovirus. Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle.”

Norovirus typically pops up from personal hygiene issues, such as an employee who didn’t wash their hands after using the restroom. It is the most common type of foodborne illness in the U.S. and causes more than 21 million cases per year.

A number of complaints on iwaspoisoned.com state that sick customers had symptoms like stomach pain, vomiting and fevers.

“Wife and I ate chicken bowls Friday night,” one such report says, according to Business Insider. “Puking brains out Saturday night and Sunday.”

Another said that at least one person was hospitalized for dehydration, pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

“This is the worst that I have ever seen,” the report says. “Severe food borne illnesses can cause long-term damage to the gastro-intestinal track. This was BAD!”

Chipotle was in the midst of a sales comeback after several foodborne illness outbreaks including e. coli, salmonella and norovirus wreaked havoc on the chain within a six-month time span in 2015, notes The Washington Post.

After closing more than 2,000 locations in February 2016 for food-safety training and subsequently putting out free offers and other marketing attempts to present the chain as clean and safe, Chipotle’s plummeting sales had finally began to creep back up.

We’ll see where it goes from here — all I know is that if they offer me free guac, I wouldn’t dream of turning it down.

Sources: Business Insider, New York Times, Washington Post / Photo Credit: Mr.TinDC/Flickr

Tags: Chipotle, Chipotle food poisoning, Chipotle outbreak, foodborne illness outbreak, norovirus
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