Chipotle has a 'clean' menu — but many customers are still terrified of E. coli (CMG)

Kate Taylor
chipotle burrito

Flickr / animakitty

Chipotle may claim to have the "cleanest" menu in the chain restaurant business — but that doesn't mean that customers trust the burrito maker just yet. 

On Tuesday, Chipotle announced it had become the only national restaurant brand with no added colors, flavors, or preservatives of any kind on its food menu. 

On social media, customers' responses to the news were mixed. Many expressed skepticism stemming from the E. coli scandal that rocked the chain in 2015. 

Some customers took offense specifically to CEO Steve Ells' criticism of McDonald's "clean" McNuggets. Ells told Business Insider that McDonald's nuggets could not be considered clean until the company stopped using synthetically-manufactured "natural flavors." 

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/846715275424813056
woah woah woah mr e.coli i wouldn't go there if i were you https://t.co/jM8AUldFp3 Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/846717009920512002
@AshleyLutz @businessinsider I wonder if E. coli is "clean" Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/846737866898190338
McDonald's don't have real E. Coli either. Tell that man to simmer down. https://t.co/AmizkDnkp3

Others said E. coli was still a reason to avoid the chain, despite Chipotle's efforts to assauge customers' food safety concerns. 

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/846030962983100419
Does that include their E.Coli special? Chipotle bashes American Ag then makes hundreds sick w their "natural & sustainable" food sources! https://t.co/ZOHDMaZHPk Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/844332088132325376
This is the first thing that popped up when I open twitter and I will not tolerate Qdoba slander. Chipotle literally had an E. Coli outbreak https://t.co/ZbufXA0f7Q

Chipotle made major investments in food safety following two E. coli outbreaks in late 2015 that affected its restaurants in 14 states. The company retrained all employees, changed certain food preparation methods, and increased the number of restaurant inspections locations undergo, among other changes. 

According to Chipotle, the company's internal research has shown that the brand is at or near pre-crisis levels on essentially all of the metrics in its brand health index. 

"We've always done things that were hard to do, but that were the right thing to do. This is another step in that direction," Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle's chief marketing officer, told Business Insider on the chain's updated, clean menu. "The food safety crisis of last year interrupted that story and replaced a lot of [discussion] about our brand with that story. It's really important to get back on the track." 

While some customers may remain unconvinced, there are signs of change, even amongst the harsh critics of Twitter. It seems that some former customers are once again returning the the chain — albeit skeptically. 

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/844569618983333889
it's been about a year & a half since I've eaten at chipotle b/c of the e.coli thing, but I'm gonna give it a shot today. pray for me. Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/844302038884388864
My first time eating chipotle since that e.coli out break 😐

 

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