Sara Rosenman

When Good Practices Fall Ill: An Analysis of Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Communications Strategy in the Wake of the 2015 E. Coli Scandal”


Chipotle Mexican Grill is a fast-casual dining chain that prides itself on fresh and responsibly-sourced ingredients, sustaining the slogan “food with integrity.” In the fall of 2015, hundreds of Chipotle patrons across the United States fell ill due to an outbreak of E. coli at various establishments. As with any public relations crisis, speed and quality of corporate response was key to regaining the trust of the consumer. Following the E. coli crisis, Chipotle published videos, press releases, and promotions to encourage people to return. With responsible communication and serious food safety improvements, Chipotle’s crisis management tactics were more effective in regaining trust than some previous crisis case studies. While the outbreak has been declared over for a year, the association between Chipotle’s name and E. coli is not yet fully severed. However, the stock prices have begun to rise and their popularity is improving once again. This research can serve as an example of a crisis communication strategy for future scholars, companies, and customers.