Chipotle vows to retrain workers following gastrointestinal illness outbreak
- Restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill vowed to retrain workers following last month's outbreak of food poisoning in Powell, OH, that left 647 people ill, as reported by NPR.
- "Once we identified this incident, we acted quickly to close the Powell restaurant and implemented our food safety response protocols that include total replacement of all food inventory and complete cleaning and sanitization of the restaurant," Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol told USA Today.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cause of the outbreak was Clostridium perfringens, a bacterium commonly found in poultry, beef, pre-cooked or dried foods prepared in large quantities. One million people a year come down with the non-contagious infection, and those that are stricken usually recover in a day or two, according to a Reuters report.
The food poisoning outbreak demonstrates the need for continuous training. Obviously, the need is critical in the restaurant industry, where turnover rates can be high.
Outbreaks of E. Coli, Salmonella and norovirus in 2016 prompted Chipotle to make its first vow to train workers and rid its restaurants of the germs that cause foodborne illnesses. The company closed its nearly 2,000 restaurants for a half-day training session following the crisis. But one half-day training session may not be enough to prevent a catastrophe. Crisis training is most effective when instruction is a consistent part of employee learning, Josh Ostrega, COO and co-founder of Workjam, told HR Dive following the first outbreak.
Some strategies for ensuring that training is consistent and continuous include making training materials accessible and easy to follow and leveraging technology as a teaching tool, in the form of apps or software programs. Tech tools can readily disseminate information, be updated as necessary and track instruction sessions to make sure all workers are being trained.
Employers intent on proactively avoiding a major emergency will remember to properly vet their managers, too. Recent data says that between 40% and 59% of managers report to having no training at all, which would make it almost impossible for them to help out any employees who are fumbling on the job.