Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics, February 24, 2016,


Copyright 2016 University of Nebraska.


The recent cases of human E. coli infections linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill in mid- October to November of 2015 brought the issue of food safety into the limelight. The outbreaks which were first detected in the Seattle Washington and Portland Oregon areas, were also reported in 7 other states, altogether leaving about 50 persons infected. Following a report about the outbreak by the Centers for Disease Control, Chipotle's sales for the last quarter of 2015 plunged by nearly 15% (Bloomberg News, Jan 6, 2016), adding to other costs incurred due to the outbreak such as medical expenses of the individuals infected and productivity losses. Without doubt, news from the media that raises awareness about compromises in food products reverberates among consumers. Consumer attitudes and responses towards food safety issues are influenced by their implicit biases, unique predispositions, and their perceptions of food safety risks. News about food safety compromises in the media, and other information sources may amplify such consumer predispositions.