Chipotle changed its steak to make the chain safer – but some customers are saying it changed their burritos for the worse.
Following the E. coli crisis, Chipotle made some serious changes to its steak preparation, in an attempt to avoid another food-poisoning outbreak in the future.
Now steaks are precooked at a low temperature in an off-site central kitchen, and then shipped to restaurants to be marinated and seared on grills.
“If there is any difference, it’s that the steak may be more tender than it was before,”Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold told Business Insider. “The response has been great. Customers really seem to like it.”
Some customers, however, disagree.
“Ever since the e. coli scare that Chipotle went through months ago, the taste of their food was rather… bland,” a Reddit post titled “What happened to the taste?” recently stated. “Once I realized this… I stopped going to Chipotle and looked for other venues of fast food.”
- Getty Images/Joe Raedle
Redditors replied to agree, many focusing on issues with the steak.
“The new steak sucks, plain and simple,” said one. “It’s dry, overcooked, and therefore chewy. I actually just had ‘fresh’ steak last night (they had just pulled it off the grill and sliced it) and it was still dry and overcooked.”
“Used to be a three time a week regular, same with a bunch of friends,” said another. “Anyone who was a steak lover including my girlfriend has stopped going really.”
Customers have voiced similar complaints on Twitter.
Chipotle’s new steak ????????????????
— Danny Davis III (@DDIII_7) April 16, 2016
Chipotle new steak is DISGUSTING
— ???? (@ChaniseyHussle) April 27, 2016
chipotle’s new steak is so gross ????????
— $$ (@okbitchh_) March 20, 2016
the new steak at chipotle is EH
— flcl (@stylishvagabond) March 12, 2016
Part of the issue seems to be understanding exactly how to cook the precooked steak – a topic that inspired heated discussion among customers and employees on Reddit.
Employees who are supportive of the new steak say that, when seared correctly for just a few minutes on the grill after being marinated, it tastesvery similarto the prior version of the steak.
Others argued it was harder to cook tasty steak with the new method, especially when preparing steak until it reached the required temperature for food safety.
“To me, this new steak never has a chance to be medium rare,” writes one Chipotle employee. “It goes from cold to medium well in two minutes on the grill.”
“Customer reactions so far? Not good,” another Redditor claiming to be a Chipotle employee wrote in March. “Many are saying the steak isn’t rare enough and that is tastes different… poor quality. I use to have a lot of pride in my steak, now that pride has faded.”
To be fair to Chipotle, the new steak does seem to have some supporters – and many people seem to have not noticed the change at all.
I’m in my room eating a steak bowl from Chipotle and not worrying about anyone cheating on me I AM LIVING LIFE
— Kimora (@nicolesimonee) June 10, 2016
got to chipotle and there was no line and the dude didnt even charge me for double steak … loving life
— Pablo Loza (@ploza23) June 10, 2016
Perhaps the steak tastes great when prepared correctly – but it seems that some customers are receiving meat that doesn’t meet their standards.
It’s also possible that some customers reacting negatively to the new steak are experiencing menu fatigue.
Due to the simplicity of Chipotle’s menu,analysts have saidthat some customers are growing tired of the food. So, even if the steak exactly replicated the prior version, some will see it as bland because they’ve grown to familiar with the flavors.
As Chipotle customersseem to be returning the chain,it’s essential that the food is as good, or better, as it was prior to the scandal. If not, the chain will have an even harder time attracting customers, for reasons unrelated to E. coli.