Chipotle Mexican Grill closed more than 1,900 of its stores nationwide for four hours on Monday, February 8, so that founder and co-CEO Steve Ells could address all employees in a town-hall style meeting intended to thank the company's workers and explain its new food-safety policies. But satirist and host of HBO's Last Week Tonight John Oliver had a different take on the occasion. In yesterday's show, he called it "the best day Subway has had since Jared went to prison."
The fast-casual chain has come under close scrutiny since six separate food-safety failures — resulting in E. coli, salmonella and norovirus — caused more than 500 people to report illness from eating at Chipotle late last year. Company stock has plummeted and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has opened a criminal investigation.
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Chipotle has taken multiple steps to ensure cleanliness and food safety at all of its locations, including last week's round of employee training and moving the preparation of foods like diced tomatoes — a factor in salmonella outbreaks in Minnesota and Wisconsin — from individual stores to central kitchens. (Read the details on Chipotle's corporate website.)
In his rant against the Denver-based burrito company, Oliver calls Chipotle "America's preferred over-the-counter laxative." He also pointed out health reports that cited a live bird living in a Florida Chipotle as recently as January. And a satirical commercial produced by the HBO show depicts a Chipotle manager using the tagline "Chipotle: what are you gonna do, go to Taco Bell?"
Here's a Youtube clip of the full Chipotle segment on yesterday's Last Week Tonight,