Dumb idea: Monsanto is purposely contaminating Chipotle's food

I wavered as to what forum was best for this, but I put it in here so that we can talk about Chipotle’s food if we wish.

• I think Monsanto is a big, evil company. Like most such companies, it is most likely not run by supervillains cackling and rubbing their hands as they concoct their plots but instead by your typical executive types, who think of themselves as good people and are particularly adept at cognitive dissonance. Of course, there’s always room for a sociopath or two in such organizations, and illegal things occur all the time. But it usually doesn’t involve straight up could-kill-people type shit.

• I’m not really into Chipotle’s food.

• I don’t find GMOs frightening. My concern is more about losing our food traditions and heritage, but I don’t think there’s much that can be done to stem the tide of GMOs.

• I find most conspiracy theories to be stupid, but I agree with the psychological take that people get into them in order to feel empowered. People would rather imagine someone bad at the world steering wheel than accept that pretty much no one is driving the bus at all. (People feel empowered by such theorizing because they then feel that the cause of the problem is identified and there is someone specific to blame, even if their names are not known.)

The Monsanto/Chipotle conspiracy idea is dumb. Here’s a typical writeup:

Here’s why this idea is so dumb:

• Surely Monsanto knows it already has a PR problem, and I think there are people there smart enough to guess that Monsanto could potentially be blamed for such an outbreak of foodborne illness, even if it did a great job of covering its tracks.

• Chipotle is small fry, not worth attacking in such a manner. The reward for success in this case is low. OTOH, if Monsanto were to get caught, it would be the ultimate PR disaster and they would be sued for an astronomical amount of money. The risk associated with failure is massive, so the whole risk-reward thing isn’t adding up at all.

• The outbreaks have occurred in a large geographical area. That’s a pretty huge covert operation and would involve a substantial number of people who have to avoid getting caught by employees of Chipotle or its suppliers, be seen on security cameras, etc. Monsanto is not the CIA, and I think such an operation would be difficult even for the CIA to pull off cleanly. (But if one thinks that 9/11 was an inside job and was done with no paper trail, no whistleblowers, etc., then I’m sure it’s not hard to believe.)

• Although it’s been demonstrated that Monsanto has engaged in PR to discredit anti-GMO activists (a legal activity, although their tactics were a bit dirty), I really don’t think they are all that concerned about such activists or restaurants like Chipotle getting rid of GMOs. Why? Because they have products that just sell really well because the fundamental demand for them is quite high. There is a market for cheap, easily grown corn and soybeans because those crops can be used in a ton of shit.

That’s my take on the situation. What I don’t like about conspiracy theorists is that they end up injecting a lot of noise into important conversations. Foodborne illness is serious, the Chipotle outbreak is serious and threatens the future of a once very promising chain. There’s lots to talk about here without having to involve a company that wasn’t involved at all.


I’m guessing someone at Chipotle came up with this theory. “Oh no! It isn’t because our employees don’t pay attention to food preparation standards. It’s because Monsanto is teh eeeeeevil !!! They’re launching bioterrorism attacks for, uhh, some reason.”

There’s a reason you see signs inside restrooms telling employees to wash their hands. This is that reason.

I think Diceman is half correct. I don’t think the “story” is an invention of Chipotle; it was inevitable some nutcase would come up with it all on their own. But of course they’d be happy for this story to take off in an effort to cover up the fact their food was dirty.

Really, why does it have to be more complicated than that? The #1 reason food makes people sick it because it’s contaminated with germs. End of story.

To repost something I wrote in another thread:

Mainly that NaturalNews is a hotbed of loony conspiracy theories and anti-science crazy and that you’ll generally be on the right track if you believe the opposite of what they tell you.

NN’s Fearless Leader Mike Adams is the guy who earlier fulminated against genetic modification technology in an article in which he said “It is the moral right – and even the obligation – of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.” (a website launched around the same time which the article linked to (and which Adams is suspected of starting), contained a (?hit) list of alleged GMO supporters. The site was later taken down after a storm of criticism.

Chipotle’s troubles are eminently explainable by ordinary contamination and there is zero evidence of any Multifarious Plots by the evil Monsatan. The most that can be said is that some biotech supporters have exhibited glee over revelations of disease outbreaks traced to Chipotle, given the company’s pious (and not entirely honest) embrace of supposedly safer non-GMO food sources.

This is a real nutball theory, unfortunately, the problems have nothing to do with GM foods. the problem is:
-poor food handling procedures: chicken and beef are kept at temperatures too low to inhibit bacterial growth. In fact, most of these places kept cooked chicken at temperatures that were OPTIMAL for bacterial growth
-filthy preparation areas-employees were not using gloves, or washing their hands adequately. Under these conditions, the bacterial will cross contaminate knives, working surfaces, food carriers, etc.
-inadequate cleaning of food preparation areas, leading to cross-contamination.
Translation: Chipotle restaurants were an accident waiting to happen, with bacterial contamination inevitable. Stay at home and cook your own rice and beans. Be aware that even cage free, free-range chicken is LOADED with e coli bacteria-it is in their guts. If you don’t cook it properly, it becomes a bacteria farm.

I actually have my own theory about Chipotle’s current woes, especially the norovirus outbreak: THERE’S ONLY ONE FUCKING TOILET PER GENDER! For the entire restaurant, including employees. Guess what happens when a worker needs to use the can and there’s a customer in there? It’s not a traditional bathroom with multiple stalls, it’s single occupancy only. The employee has to wait or come back later or go in the alley behind the store. One customer goes in the bathroom with the shits and every worker on that shift is going to wash his hands (hopefully!) in the same sink. One person with diarrhea could really bring an entire restaurant to a standstill.

In MA, food handlers are supposed to wear gloves.

I have nothing against Chipotle and it’s food, not great food but it’s overall good in my book. It’s cheap and sometimes when I want a small meal to eat on the go, Chipotle it is even though I have not been there for a quite a while before this news broke out.

Yes the reason is unsanitary conditions and improper food handling on the part of workers. I have to say though that I have always seen everyone of them wear gloves. Sometimes it’s due to contamination of a produce or meat from a farm or something.

True but why Chipotle in all this case and not some other establishment? It’s not like Chipotle employees are the only ones not washing their hands, you’ll find those at other chains and restaurants?

They must be doing something systematically wrong.

The other possibility is a supplier; however, one would think that the produce from the supplier would also be making customers of other businesses sick as well. E. coli outbreaks due to problems in the produce supply chain are not uncommon. I remember in the 90s there was huge E. coli scare in Japan due to contamination of daikon radish sprouts (kaiware daikon). One hears about them from time to time in the US as well.

Of course, any restaurant can screw up and make customers sick. If it’s not a chain, it’s likely to be a local incident and not attract national media attention. Or individual cases can simply not be noticed at all. I got campylobacter food poisoning from a yakitori restaurant in Japan in 2004. It was not a dive; it was a high-end, small individual restaurant that was nice and clean, and the food was excellent. One drop of raw chicken juice on something else is all it takes.

Interesting observation!

Did you mean too high to inhibit bacterial growth?

I’ve had Chipotle twice in my life, with the second time being rather recent. One thing I don’t like about their food is that it all ends up rather cold once you put the veggies and salsas and whatnot on it. And one reason that it ends up cold is that the meat just isn’t very hot. And probably why they keep it not very hot is so that it doesn’t dry out: hence your optimal temperature for bacterial growth.

It’s also just not that much cheaper than having better Mexican at a sit-down restaurant. Or fish tacos at just about anywhere these days…