Jan. 9, 2017
The heavily brand-damaged Chipotle said today it's installing breakthrough technology in its 2,200 stores that will literally take pathogen sources out of the air, off surfaces and out of ice before any food comes into contact with any of those three potential sources of contamination in its restaurants, according to a news release.
The brand said in a news release that it has entered an agreement with South Florida-based RGF Environmental Group Inc., after testing the company's air-purifying and ice machine sanitization systems in Chipotle outlets over the past three months.
Independently verified results of those tests led Chipotle to incorporate the systems in all existing 2,200 Chipotle locations, as well as all future locations of the chain, which a news release said are now opening at a rate of one per day. The technology is also being introduced to numerous Chipotle suppliers.
"We're excited to be working with Chipotle and their supply chain partners to bring them food safety interventions using effective non-chemical alternatives," RGF President and CEO Ron Fink, said in the news release.
Both systems being adopted by Chipotle used a patented photohydroionization technology for chemical-free, advanced oxidation of indoor air quality technology which the company said recreates nature's process of purifying the air, controlling environmental sources of bacteria, mold and viruses on surfaces and elsewhere in restaurants.
The company's ice machine sanitizer uses the same technology to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria to patrons and employees through cross-contamination. It does this by keeping ice machine heads, ice production areas and bins sanitized. This is critical in food service since ice machines are quite often the source of the foodborne pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes.
RGF is also working with Chipotle's suppliers to ensure ingredient safety and to control contamination in food processing for the chain. In fact, according to a news release, the company's Food Surface Sanitation Tunnel is now being considered for direct surface applications on food and food conveyor belts as an effective alternative to chemical sprays and baths. The system prevents microbial contamination without chemicals just before packaging or processing and does not affect food's taste or appearance. Additionally, it has been approved to control pathogens in beef, pork, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables.