CDC Scolds Chipotle: Yes, Americans Do Have A Right To Know About Disease Outbreaks

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Chipotle, the high-fat, high-calorie burrito maker, has no problem with inconsistency - they even count on their consumers being inconsistent, like when they advertised having 'no GMOs' in their 1,500 calorie, 50 grams of fat meals as being healthier because they switched to a different soybean oil.

Pro-science people noted that the cheese, the meat and the soda certainly were still GMOs. (1)

It made no difference, anti-science groups still cheered. That was a sign for Chipotle marketing that they were in the right place: Pro-science people were going to buy the stuff if the food was good anyway while anti-science people will willing dupes and would buy more.

No other mentality can explain why the Chipotle corporation would now contend that the American public does not have a right to know if they are going to get a disease in their stores. Yet they did just that, arguing that the 60 people in 14 states who got E. coli should not have been cause for CDC warning the public.

Instead, Chipotle has argued that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "actually misinform the public." Now, in many cases they have a point.  The CDC is scaremongering a condition other countries don't even recognize because it has no clinical relevance - pre-diabetes - and patronized American women by telling them not to drink alcohol if they aren't on birth control. American smokers were told they only used e-cigarettes because they were educated by advertising. The list goes on.

But that is the CDC engaging in social engineering with that "prevention" they slapped on the end of their name. What they absolutely should be doing is informing the American public about dangerous food foisted off on an unsuspecting public by a company that has shown it will go to any lengths to make a buck. That is the definition of Chipotle; they demonized their competitors about something harmless (2) while seeking to suppress information about their own customers being poisoned.

Dr. Jeremy Sobel, the CDC’s associate director for epidemiological sciences, was having none of it. In response to Chipotle's claim the government shouldn't have done anything until they were sure it was Chipotle responsible for Chipotle customers being ill, Sobel wrote, “It is a basic tenant of the science of epidemiology that using an exposure as a part of a case definition biases epidemiologic assessment of the outbreak source. In other words, requiring exposure to Chipotle restaurants in order to meet the case definition would preclude the ability to assess other exposures as potential causes of the outbreak.”

Eliminating all other correlations, like that they all watched ESPN or whatever else Chipotle must be arguing was common among sick people, would have taken weeks or longer and more would have gotten ill. Instead, Chipotle is arguing that since not all people could recall if they had eaten at Chipotle in the last week, the CDC should not have issued a warning.

This is a weird sort of pleading the alternative on their part (we didn't make them sick/ they were already sick/we fixed the problem that made them sick before they got sick) because clearly a whole lot of people did get sick at Chipotle - and continued getting sick.

Heck, even the parking lots at Chipotle were not safe. (3)

The company should stick to inventing mythologies about its food and avoid trying to step into science in the future. They have yet to be right and that is what epidemiologists call a "trend."


(1) If you are not familiar with the technology, GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are a 1970s successor in genetic modification to less precise earlier techniques such as mutagenesis.

(2) No customer in 20 years has gotten so much as a stomachache from GMOs.

(3) Concrete wall blown over by wind crushes car; man inside survives.

chipotle wall