Today, Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill released details of what the chain is calling its “enhanced food safety program” that “ will establish Chipotle at the forefront of food safety protocols in the restaurant industry.”

Work on this new program--completed with the help of Seattle-based IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group--commenced just after reports of foodborne illness began spreading back in October, prompting the immediate shutdown of all Chipotle locations in Oregon and Washington. IEH helped Chipotle with a thorough review of their entire food chain--from the farms where their ingredients are sourced, to the restaurants that prepare, cook and serve food.

Specifically, program components include:

  • Implementing high-resolution testing of all fresh produce in which a series of DNA-based tests will ensure the quality and safety of ingredients before they are shipped to restaurants, a testing program that far exceeds requirements of state and federal regulatory agencies, as well as industry standards.
  • Initiating end-of-shelf-life testing where ingredient samples will be tested to ensure that quality specifications are maintained throughout the shelf life of an ingredient.
  • Pursuing continuous improvements throughout our supply chain using data from test results to continuously measure the performance of each of its vendors and suppliers.
  • Enhancing internal training to ensure that all employees thoroughly understand our high standards for food safety and food handling.

In making this announcement today, Chipotle says that the company’s main objective is “to achieve the highest level of safety possible.” This enhanced food safety program is how they hope to meet that goal.

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