Why I shouldn't be a terrified eater, and neither should you
Chipotle has been in the news for reasons it'd rather not be, as it had outbreaks of norovirus and E. coli at locations all over the country. I used to go to Chipotle on a weekly basis -- I've only been twice since the news broke, and one of those times was when it gave me a free burrito. I walked by a location near me the other day and the line was out the door, as it was before the outbreak. I don't think those people are naive. I think they're playing the odds, just like we all do when we take a bite out of something that might hurt us, and I think the odds are in their favor.
Chipotle's sales are down because even their most loyal customers were staying away in the fourth quarter of 2015. I'm sure some loyal customers got sick from their food in 2015, like the 234 confirmed cases in Simi Valley, CA in August.
Let's break down these numbers: it was estimated that 3,000 entrees were sold during a two-day period. Let's say each entree was sold to an individual person, and that the number of cases was under-reported by half -- that would mean 500 out of 3,000 people got sick. Therefore, 83% of people who ate at a Chipotle location that had "failures in pest control, sanitation, and maintenance" were fine. Sounds like a description of my last New York City apartment.
Food Safety News estimates that the salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus outbreaks from US Chipotle locations sickened 500+ people. Now, I'm sure those people were extremely sick and the side effects they suffered through were debilitating. It sounds like the worst hangover combined with the worst food poisoning you'd ever had. But put it in perspective -- if 1,900 Chipotle locations each average 1,500 entrees a day, that's 2.85 million meals. Let's say the 500+ people that were sickened was actually 1,000 people. It's still only a .03% infection rate. The odds of getting an STD from a Tinder date are much greater. And yet for every Tinder user whose doctor just told them they contracted gonorrhea, they probably still think, "Worth it!"