Is Something Fishy Going On with the Chipotle E.Coli Scare?

Photo: © Richard Levine / Alamy

Chipotle has been our favorite fast-food-that's-not-really-fast-food for years, but in the last few months, some sickening stuff has been going on. Literally.

Upwards of 500 people have fallen ill, suffering from everything from E.Coli to salmonella to norovirus. It's been happening at an alarming rate, at various locations, and no one can quite figure out how or why it's happening. Even weirder is that nothing like this has happened before this prolonged outbreak in the history of the chain.

Chipotle has reportedly done extensive tests on their food and surfaces, and cannot pinpoint the root of what's going on. And with the structure of their menu—each guest building a custom dish based on whatever mix of ingredients they want—it's hard to pinpoint even whether a specific food item is the culprit. But with no one able to discover the source, people are beginning to whisper about conspiracies.

The Internet is abuzz following a few speculative reports that this unfortunate series of events isn't a matter of questionable food handling but rather an act of corporate sabotage, targeting Chipotle and intentionally sickening customers as a response to the company publically denouncing GMOs.

"Although the idea of a conspiracy is attractive and exciting, when you move behind the scenes in almost any capacity you see how difficult it is to do even simple things well," says Charlie Hopper, food marketing expert, principal at Young & Laramore and author of the book Selling Eating. "When you factor in all the silences and expertly executed sinister maneuvers required to pull off a conspiracy like this, it's inconceivable; it's hard enough to pull off a quarterly LTO (limited time offer) promotion. This is just extraordinarily bad luck mixed with perhaps a little mismanagement and a public relations nightmare," says Hopper.

Even if it isn't true, we haven't had a good fast-food-based thriller in a while. Someone call Oliver Stone and see if he likes burritos.

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