Athens restaurants react to Chipotle E. Coli outbreak


Restaurants in Athens have steered clear of food contamination based on their own specific protocols after witnessing the E. Coli breakout Chipotle Mexican Grill is currently taking care of.

Food contamination is a process. It took time for E. Coli to build up and thrive in the locally grown produce some Chipotle businesses were using, so food safety in vital in situations like these.

“I think that once a problem occurs in a restaurant chain or any other food-handling facility, that’s an excellent time for that company to reevaluate their food safety plans and to reevaluate how they’re handling and preparing food,” said Professor Judy Harrison.

Competitors like Moe’s Southwest Grill in Athens are familiar with food safety, and this business has done its best to prevent contamination within its own restaurant.

“When it happens, it’s either your food supplier was contaminated, or when you received it you didn’t follow the right procedures to have it in a safe stage,” Yobani Rodriguez said.

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Although it takes time for food to be contaminated, it takes no time for consumers to take the heat of it all. As a result, there are strict food safety measures to take even after acknowledging the people who have suffered from the problem.

“Wow like i mentioned before, when something like that happens, they shut down the source of the problem.” Rodriguez said. “Not because they’re shutting them down, it’s because they’re trying to stop where the source of the problem is coming out for the safety of the population.”

Locally grown produce is often praised because it is environmentally friendly and extremely healthy. However, it makes it that much easier for food to become contaminated compared to processed foods. Moe’s Southwest Grill receives two to three shipments of fresh produce a week depending on the volume of customers coming in. The multiple shipments a week prevent this Athens restaurant from overloading itself, and keep the food “as fresh as possible,” according to Rodriguez.

The Athens community was not discouraged from eating Chipotle, despite the closings of 43 Chipotle restaurants due to E. Coli contamination in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Jordan James enjoys eating Chipotle because according to him, it is great food, not too expensive, and it really fills him up. After hearing the news about Chipotle stores in Washington and Oregon, he was determined to continue to eat there as long as the bacteria did not show up in Athens, Georgia.

“That’s really disconcerting because you never want to have something like that involved with a brand of food that you like to eat,” James said. “But at the same time, as long as it doesn’t come to Georgia and where I plan on eating Chipotle, then I’m not going to worry about it too much. It’s definitely not a good thing. I’m not excited or happy that it happened, but at the same time, I’m not going to be too worried about the E. Coli as long as it doesn’t come to Georgia.”

Andrew Porter also refused to give up his Chipotle runs when he heard about the Chipotle food contamination. He goes at least once a week, and all he could think about the entire car ride home from Georgia-Florida was Chipotle.

“I was on Twitter, and I was like oh snap, Chipotle’s got an E. Coli outbreak, and I was like I don’t really care,” Porter said. “I’m going to still eat Chipotle because I love Chipotle and it’s really good.”

Patricia Duffy loved Chipotle so much, she would be willing to risk her life over the taste of the Mexican food.

“I mean honestly dying from Chipotle would be a pretty awesome death.” Duffy said. “That’d be pretty pleasant compared to some other ways to die.”

The E. Coli outbreak may have shut down several stores far away from Georgia, but in Athens, people are glad that food contamination has not arrived on their doorstep. Athens’ restaurants will continue to implement food safety to prevent bacteria like E. Coli from contaminating their foods.

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