James Lee

It's been a rough year for Chipotle as the popular "fast-casual" Mexican food chain struggled to identify how and why it was infecting customers around the country with E.coli.

But now, The Associated Press reports, the company is instituting big changes to how its food is prepared to try and prevent any future contamination of its products.

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The company has hired IEH Laboratories to come in and tighten up its preparation practices to hopefully eliminate the E. coli infections that closed 43 locations in Washington and Oregon, as well as an unrelated norovirus outbreak in Boston.

Most of the changes Chipotle detailed to the AP involve moving to centralized production, to make it easier to ensure cleanliness and test for potential contaminants. While that's true, some of these seem to deviate from the spirit of Chipotle's "Food with Integrity" mission statement.

The new cooking methods include:

  • Shredding cheese before it arrives at restaurants.
  • Macerating onions and other vegetables with lemon and lime juice to kill germs.
  • Testing random samples of chicken and poultry for contaminants before they are shipped out to stores.
  • Chopping tomatoes and cilantro (but not onions) before they are shipped to stores.
  • Blanching vegetables prior to serving.

All the people who were infected at a Chipotle probably can't wait to stop by and try out the new food. Yum.