Fast Food

What Fast Food Restaurants Are Doing In Response To COVID-19

With Coronavirus news changing daily, little by little, our favorite bars, cafes, and mom-and-pop restaurants are all closing down, leaving us with the option of fist-fighting grocery shoppers for a pack of chicken, or taking our chances on a fast food restaurant.

A good amount of the larger quick-service restaurants have the luxury of staying open in this time of crisis, and a lot are taking more precautions than usual.

With the widespread uneasiness, it’s understandable to feel that going anywhere is a risk. Our favorite restaurants know this, and are doing their best to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

We can confirm that restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Subway, and Starbucks have all vowed to increase the frequency of cleaning and sanitation.

Each restaurant’s statement is a little different, but they all communicate some form of:

“We are closely monitoring and following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), to ensure we are doing our part to keep you, our staff, and our communities safe.”

If you have gone to any fast food spot, there’s a good chance the employees are sporting latex gloves for your protection and theirs. Honestly, even that little wrinkle helps put your mind at ease.

Depending on your area, all of these restaurants also deliver to some capacity, with some offering pick-up options while dining rooms closures have become standard protocol. And of course, the drive-thrus are still open, allowing them align with the CDC’s advisement of keeping groups of people to 10 or less.

Chick-Fil-A has a practice of handing out physical menus to customers at the Drive-Thru, but that has been eliminated to keep interactions at a minimum.

KFC, Chipotle, Blaze Pizza, and Del Taco are not only delivering, but as of now, those deliveries are free. Blaze Pizza’s delivery is free through Postmates and Door Dash through March 22.

Del Taco’s delivery is free through Postmates with the code: DelTacoNow.

Chipotle’s free delivery will run until March 31 using their fancy new Delivery Kitchen that includes a tamper-proof seal on your food and the ability to watch your driver’s route.

Now, KFC’s delivery is going above and beyond, being available until April 26. The order minimum is $12 and can be ordered through their site or Grubhub.

While most restaurant statements have mentioned employee safety being a priority, Starbucks really made sure to reiterate that they’re putting their “partners” AKA employees, first. Starbucks said their employees, “…Never have to choose between work and taking care of themselves.” Which aside from limiting social interactions, also means that if partners feel ill, they can take time off, and if that means that they have to relocate healthy employees or even temporary close down a store, that is what they’ll do.

Starbucks has also extended their “Catastrophe Pay” program, which is usually offered to partners during hurricanes and/or flooding. Partners will be given up to 14 days pay if affected by COVID-19. That time is in addition to possible sick pay, vacation pay or PTO that is normally offered.

So there are extreme measures that fast food restaurants are taking, and rightfully so. Any time you step out of your door, there’s risk, but it’s good to see that measures are taken to try and keep consumers and employees safe.

But above all, remember to have compassion toward any and all employees. While some Americans can work from home or have the luxury of taking time off to stay home in these times, restaurant employees are helping keep essential food businesses running.

#foodbeast News Restaurants What's New

Chipotle Debuts Carne Asada Nationwide

Photo: Omari Allen

Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced the long awaited arrival of Mexican food staple, carne asada. Having tested the new menu item in Fresno and Cincinnati to amazing results, they’re now launching it nationwide for a limited time. It took two years of research and development by Chipotle’s Director of Culinary and Menu Development Chad Brauze in order to nail the perfect recipe. I had the opportunity to sample their new protein and am pleased to say that it hits the mark in terms of flavor and consistency. 

Chipotle’s carne asada is thinly sliced and grilled with lime juice, cilantro, coriander, cinnamon, and cumin, giving it a distinct taste next to their usual steak option. Citrusy hints mingle with aromatic flavors further enhanced by a kick of spice. The consistency is tender and buttery; a lighter steak alternative with a fresher finish. It manages to maintain the carne asada experience one would experience at a tried and true spot while elevating the typical Chipotle experience. Moreover, keeping in line with their commitment to quality assurance, the new carne asada is Keto, Paleo and Whole30 compliant.

Photo: Omari Allen

For those that live in Dallas, Detroit and San Diego, Chipotle is also testing out a new sauce to pair with your protein. It’s called Queso Blanco and is made of Monterey Jack, white cheddar, serano, chipotle, and poblano peppers mixed with various spices. I had the pleasure of sampling it and can confirm that it’s cheesier and creamier, with a spicy whisper at the end which makes it stand apart from their current queso. It can be used as a dipping sauce or a perfect compliment to your burrito or bowl. Depending on reception, the Queso Blanco sauce may soon join the Chipotle menu officially. 

Photo: Omari Allen

Chipotle’s new carne asada is now available at all locations nationwide for a limited time.

Fast Food News Science

Chipotle Just Settled for $6.5 Million Over Non-GMO Claims

Genetically engineered foods, or GMOs, have long been the focus of debate in this country. While science has repeatedly found them to be safe and healthy, third party labels like “non-GMO” have gained traction amongst consumers that, thanks to a collection of fear-mongering articles and documentaries, have developed antagonistic sentiments towards a technology that could feed and save the planet.

The debate around those labels just got an intriguing new talking point, thanks to a false advertising lawsuit that targeted Chipotle over claims that its food was non-GMO.

chipotle hid several foodborne illness outbreaks

Chipotle, who just agreed to settle the lawsuit for $6.5 million, had used “non-GMO” to describe its food in advertising campaigns. However, according to the National Law Review, genetically modified feed had been used to feed some of the animals Chipotle sourced for its meat and dairy ingredients. That violates the terms of the standard put together by The Non-GMO Project, one of the most encompassing third-party labels food manufacturers can obtain in regards to non-GMO products.

It’s appropriate to call The Non-GMO Project a third party label since it’s not any standard or method approved by the federal government. Currently, the FDA has no legally enforceable interpretation of the term “non-GMO,” and even refuses to use it in its own language. They’ve also come out with statements that say that claims of non-GMO could be misleading for other reasons, even if the main reason companies utilize them is to convey that their products are safe and healthy.

The FDA’s specific statement regarding the matter is as follows:

For example, the labeling of a bag of specific type of frozen vegetables that states that they were “not produced through modern biotechnology” could be misleading if, in addition to this statement, the labeling contains statements or vignettes that suggest or imply that, as a result of not being produced through modern biotechnology, such vegetables are safer, more nutritious, or have different attributes than other foods solely because the food was not produced using modern biotechnology.

With all of this controversy bubbling up surrounding the term, and with Chipotle paying significantly for using it in their advertising, it could potentially lead to a decrease in the amount of non-GMO claims used by the food industry. As the level of education and literacy the public gains on the safety and health of genetically engineered food increases as well, it could only be a matter of time before this third-party labeling of non-GMOs becomes moot.

As part of the aforementioned lawsuit, Chipotle will pay out refunds for anyone in the US who ate at their restaurants between April 27, 2015 and June 30, 2016. Households are eligible for up to $2 per meal for 5 meals without documentation plus another 10 with receipts and proof of purchase.

Fast Food

Chipotle’s Quietly Testing Quesadillas In California

Photo by Foodbeast

If you’ve ever dreamed of being able to order a quesadilla at Chipotle, you can make it a reality in Southern California.

Spotted in Newport Beach, a quesadilla has been added to the menu, with your choice of just cheese, or any of the classic Chipotle meat offerings.

That means if you want that Chipotle barbacoa, steak, or even their sofritas in quesadilla form, it is finally possible.


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The casual Chipotle fan probably just did a double take and asked, “Wait, Chipotle didn’t already have quesadillas?”

It is true. The fast-casual restaurant is known for its burritos, burrito bowls, and even its tacos, but the kitchen set up wasn’t exactly primed for quesadillas.

Photo by Foodbeast

Now they seem to have incorporated a grill of sorts, that presses down on the quesadilla, giving its cheese the perfect ooze.

The Foodbeast crew went down to the Newport Beach location to investigate and can confirm that it’s on the menu, has signs promoting all over, and is as good as you’ve dreamt them to be.


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There were rumblings of Chipotle working on quesadillas last year, being spotted in at least their New York’s test kitchen, but now they’ve made their way out west, hopefully meaning there will be a much bigger roll out in the works.

Fast Food Health What's New

Chipotle’s New Lifestyle Bowls Include A DOUBLE PROTEIN Option

The hardest part of a New Year’s resolution is sticking to it long term. I tell everyone I’m gonna switch to paleo, and end up back in the drive-thru chomping on fries within a week.

Luckily, there’s now a fast food option that can help us stick to a few of the more popular diets out there for as long as we can resist those temptations.

Chipotle is offering up a variety of Lifestyle Bowls, each one directed to a specific dietary lifestyle that people may be looking towards. It’s being launched in the New Year to go along with all of our resolutions, but a Chipotle rep has confirmed that this is a permanent addition to the menu.

In total, there’s four Lifestyle Bowls in the lineup, including the above Double Protein bowl. It comes loaded with full portions of steak and chicken, white rice, black beans, red salsa, romaine lettuce, and sour cream. Gains for days.

The other diet-friendly options are as follows:

Keto Salad Bowl: Heavy on the good fats and protein while light on the carbs, this comes with a base of romaine, carnitas, red salsa, cheese, and guac.

Paleo Salad Bowl: This lifestyle based on ancient diets comes loaded with veggies and protein. There’s romaine, fajita veggies, barbacoa, green salsa, and guacamole.

Whole30 Salad Bowl: A surefire way to survive your entire month on the Whole30 challenge. This bowl comes with romaine, carnitas, fajita veggies, tomato salsa, and guacamole.

If you’re taking on one of these diets and want to try one of the bowls out, they’re available by name on Chipotle’s app and via online ordering. In-store, you can use the builds above to create these for yourself.

Fast Food What's New

Chipotle Now Lets You Order A HALF POUND Of Guac On The Side

When you think guacamole, the first fast food chain that comes to mind is most likely Chipotle. It’s their signature staple that’s helped them become the burrito giant they are today.

There’s now a guac option at Chipotle that takes their fan favorite item to the next level.

You’re now able to order an entire HALF POUND of it on the side.

For context, this is a visual of the chain’s standard portion:

And this is what a half pound of guacamole looks like:

Chipotle’s normal side of guac comes in at 4 ounces, so the new option is double that of what you normally get. According to a press release, it’s available both for online order or in-restaurant, and can be served on the side of your meal or with a large bag of chips.

Of course, guac is already extra at the custom burrito chain, so you know this gargantuan portion will come with a sizable price tag. But this is America, so we should be able to dump an entire half-pound container of it on our bowls or cram it into our burritos if we want to.

Photos courtesy of Chipotle.
Fast Food Health Opinion Restaurants

Why We Should Hope Chipotle Succeeds Despite All Their Food Safety Issues

It’s hard for me to hate on Chipotle too much, to be perfectly honest. I have major respect for what the company has been trying to do in the world of fast food, as their mantra of fresh ingredients, built-to-order, and healthier options is something that the entire industry should move to. If they could just move past their food safety scandals, they would be the gold standard of what all of fast food should be.

No fast food chain has been beleaguered with food poisoning issues as much as Chipotle in recent years. They’ve gotten hundreds of people sick across multiple foodborne illness outbreaks. When they tried to correct the issue with retraining, the food safety mishaps continued.

Now, they’ve recently experienced their worst food poisoning fiasco of all time, almost right after they had brought in a new CEO and were looking to turn things around. It goes without saying, but Chipotle just can’t seem to catch a break with all of the scandal that has been linked to them.

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Still, Chipotle deserves more credit than the general public has been giving them. Yes, they  can’t keep a clean streak for more than a few months, but it’s because what they’re doing has been pushing the envelope in the fast food industry for nearly a decade.

Achieving the scale they have makes it a challenge to control food safety with even just processed ingredients on their own. Now imagine taking that same model and implementing it into a vast lineup of fresh ingredients and a restaurant chain where everything is made in-house. This includes cutting the vegetables, marinating the meats, shredding cheese, and making fresh batches of guac daily.

All of those fresh ingredients mean that a significant amount of prep is required, which opens up the chain to more food poisoning possibilities. If someone isn’t properly trained or deviates from a food safety plan, it opens up the gateway for people to get sick.

It’s impossible to be 100% perfect with food safety, even with Chipotle’s strict food handling procedures and quarterly retrainings (a new requirement for employees). Food contamination can start on the field, long before Chipotle has a chance to get its hands on it. Despite all of the technology the food industry has, it’s not possible to catch every pathogen before it gets to the consumer. This is especially true for fresh produce, where science has yet to figure out how to effectively kill bacteria without drastically altering food quality.

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And though it would seem outlandish to even surmise, some conspiracy theorists believe that Chipotle’s food safety issues could also potentially not be the company’s fault. These same individuals believe there may be a hidden force attempting to sabotage Chipotle. Theories of corporate influence have been floating around since 2015, suggesting that shareholders may have something to do with the poisonings so that they can profit via short stocks.

Some customers also believed that one outbreak could have been the work of Monsanto after Chipotle announced they would stop using GMOs. That particular scenario involved a “very rare” strain of E. Coli, according to the FDA, which led people to believe that Monsanto could have paid someone to target Chipotle in retaliation. To date, it’s never been proven if that was or wasn’t the case.

If these conspiracy theories are in fact true, it would mean that somebody had to have intentionally poisoned the food at multiple locations, which isn’t an out-of-the-question scenario. Folks have spiked food with toxins or bacteria in the past, including at grocery stores and in the salad bars of restaurants.

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I’m not suggesting that Chipotle is free of any fault when it comes to their food poisoning issues. Rather, they should still be held responsible because these illnesses still happened to their customers under their watch. Thus it’s imperative they still ramp up to stringent measures with their food handling programs and continually hold themselves accountable for what’s been going on.

Chipotle’s concerted and continued efforts to handle its food safety problems while persisting to be a cutting-edge model of what fast food should be still serves as an example to others in the industry. Their take on fresh ingredients, handmade products, and affordable pricing at that level of quality is commendable, and something we should be supporting despite the food poisonings.

No fast food chain has ever been willing to take on the same freshness and quality model Chipotle started out with and scale it to the size of a mega-corporation. The burrito giant took on the guinea pig role in testing out what we all want fast food to really be: fresh, fast, affordable, and tasty. Outside of the lingering safety issues (and their forgettable first run of queso), Chipotle has managed to do all of that.

Minus the food-borne illnesses, Chipotle is what the rest of fast food should be. As they work out the kinks in their food handling programs, we should continue to support them and allow them to become the gold standard the rest of the industry aspires to be. Only then can we possibly have a future of food that’s wholesome, nutritious, and delicious, even at its most basic level.

Fast Food Health News

Chipotle Is Retraining All Of Its Workers Following Latest Food Safety Incident

In the aftermath of Chipotle’s biggest food poisoning outbreak in history, the chain’s employees will be undergoing nationwide retraining on food safety, in an attempt to help the issue.

chipotle hid several foodborne illness outbreaks

The company’s most recent foodborne illness scare in Powell, Ohio, led to over 700 self-reported illnesses. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, local health department officials later confirmed the actual number of related cases to be 674, still the most ever for a single outbreak tied to Chipotle.

It took them a while to find the cause, but the culprit pathogen was discovered to be Clostridium perfringens, a bacteria that grows well in protein-rich environments and is a common sign of time and temperature abuse.

New Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol has since issued a statement announcing the nationwide retraining.

“While this incident impacted only one restaurant, Chipotle field leadership will be retraining all restaurant employees nationwide beginning next week on food safety and wellness protocols,” Niccol said.

These will include an expansion of those policies, including “a recurring employee knowledge assessment of our rigorous food safety standards,” according to the statement.

The last time Chipotle performed such a massive retraining was in early 2016, when every location nationwide closed for a few hours on one day to talk food safety. It is unclear whether a similar action will happen when the new training sessions begin next week.