Chipotle restaurant workers fill orders in Miami.
Photograph by Joe Raedle — Getty Images
By Benjamin Snyder
December 3, 2015

Following a recent outbreak of E. coli in its U.S. restaurants, Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) is tightening its guidelines for produce suppliers, who are a core part of the chain’s commitment to getting ingredients from local farms.

Chipotle said it would introduce stricter requirements for its suppliers in the future. In an email to Fortune on Thursday, spokesman Chris Arnold confirmed that the company is planning to announce “some of these changes in the coming days.”

A Bloomberg report published Wednesday had noted that Chipotle removed a description of its local producer program from its website last month and replaced it with a message on long-term supplier relationships.

Arnold explained to Fortune that the company “opted to remove the language about the local program from the website simply because we do not know for sure what it will look like when it comes back in season next year, and we didn’t want to over promise on that.”

Chipotle’s local program, which started in 2008, has long been a staple of the chain’s mission to source ingredients from nearby farms and not factories.

The company removed “some discussion of the local program from our website (which prompted the Bloomberg story) because the program is out of season and, with some heightened requirements for produce suppliers, we expect that some of our current local produce partners might not meet those requirements,” Arnold added.

“Our local program runs essentially from June through October, and has largely gone out of season for now,” Arnold reiterated.

Six states were affected by the E. coli crisis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 45 customers had gotten sick in California, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington, according to USA Today.

In September, Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota were linked to a salmonella outbreak.


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