Pundit's Mailbag — Staying Up-to-date On Chipotle:
Does Marsden Appointment Mean It Was Meat? Will Chipotle Back Off Testing?
Complete Information vs Continuous Change
Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, April 14, 2016
We have featured many pieces from Fred Stein, a food safety consultant with Safe Food Connection out of Florida, including these:
Pundit’s Mailbag — Salad Bars Are Tricky Business
Pundit’s Mailbag — At Your Service: Alan L. Siger, Consumers Produce Co. Don Harris, Wild Oats Markets Fred Stein, FRED International Paul Klutes, C.H. Robinson
Pundit’s Mailbag — Reaction To NRA’s Reaction
So it was nice to hear from him again after we ran our piece, Spinach Crisis Déjà vu: Dr. Mansour Samadpour Retained By Chipotle To Boost Food Safety Efforts: Increased Product Testing, Outsourced Processed Produce, And New In-Store Kill-Steps Are Part Of New Moves To Keep Customers Safe But Is Chipotle Over-Promising? Will Food Safety Be The Priority As Memories Fade?
We appreciate the kind words though, alas, “completeness” of knowledge is not something we suspect we will ever obtain.
Indeed the circumstances are forever changing. For example, not long after we published the piece, Chipotle hired a new food safety expert: Chipotle taps KSU Professor for Food-safety Post:
Five months after an E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. surfaced in the Pacific Northwest, the burrito maker has hired a new food safety czar.
Chipotle has tapped Kansas State University meat-science professor James Marsden, a renowned food safety expert, to oversee food safety across the 2,000-unit chain, according to people familiar with the matter. Previously, a number of officials looked after food safety in the company's supply chain and stores, these people said….
Mr. Marsden has been a member of the Kansas State University faculty since 1994. He has conducted research on the safety of meat products, including the control of the dangerous E. coli O157 strain in raw ground beef. He has written numerous publications and book chapters on food safety. In 2014, he was inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame, an annual honor bestowed by leaders in the meat industry. He's also the father of actor James Marsden.
Almost simultaneously, word got out that Chipotle may not be committed to all the testing it had previously announced, The Wall Street Journal ran a piece titled, Chipotle Weighs Stepping Back From Some Food-Safety Changes:
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is considering stepping back from some of the food-safety changes it touted just a month ago in the wake of a series of disease outbreaks, according to people familiar with the matter.
Last month, Chipotle said it was conducting high-resolution DNA-based testing of many ingredients. Now, the company is considering dialing back or eliminating pathogen testing on some ingredients, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company is now having its beef cooked before it arrives at some restaurants in vacuum-sealed bags, where it is then marinated and heated on a grill before being served, according to the people.
Pre-cooking beef could help ensure that E.coli is killed, if such contamination occurs again. Chipotle previously cited high-resolution testing as a key component of its food safety program.
In any case, Marsden is a meat expert and so his choice likely indicates that Chipotle believes that meat was the problem, though Federal authorities were leaking that they thought vegetables to blame.
So though “completeness” will not be obtained, “continuity” surely will.
Many thanks to Fred Stein for his kind words.