“I’ll have a burrito with brown rice, black beans and chicken…no wait…yeah, ok, chicken…” That was me in a Chipotle recently. I love chicken burritos, but something made me pause as I ordered. In fact, I nearly walked out of the restaurant altogether. Why? Because a little voice said, ”Do you really think it’s safe to eat here?” I actually did eat there, and the burrito was tasty, and I felt just fine. However, how many people would have listened to the inner voice and stopped?
Chipotle’s stock has dropped over 30 percent in the last 3 months. That’s a very concerning thing for the ubiquitous chain that is a fixture in my teenagers’ dining rotation. What’s driving the drop, which can be seen as a reflection of investor confidence? There’s a good chance the recent incidents of illnesses related to food borne viruses are at the core. Chipotle is still sorting out the root cause of the incidents that occurred in separate stores but in a short time frame.
Let’s just pretend that chicken was the culprit in all the incidents. The executives of Chipotle are likely considering questions such as: “Was it an unsanitary condition in our stores that caused this? Was it caused by employees not following proper cooking procedures? Did we receive contaminated chicken? If so, when and how did it get contaminated? Was there an issue with the transportation or storage of chicken? Was the chicken contaminated when it was processed? Was there an issue with the farm that raised the chicken, or the feed the chicken consumed?”
We work with businesses that touch every part of the “food chain”: from farms, to livestock barns, to trucks, to processing plants, to warehouses, to grocery stores, to restaurants. Each one faces unique risks, but all face potential catastrophic risk from bodily injury (illness or death) resulting from food borne causes. Each business has to analyze its exposure to those risks and determine the best strategy to eliminate, manage or transfer those risks. You may be in a business that has nothing to do with food; however, you have to do the same critical thinking. What risks might be your “E Coli” that could potentially take down your business? How does your “food chain”, from your suppliers to your customers, impact your own risk? Hopefully, you are already asking yourself these questions. If not, you should be, and those are the questions we help our clients with everyday.
It’s almost lunchtime…a burrito sounds good…