Thursday, December 24, 2015

Chipotle E. coli Conspiracy Theory: Is Big Chemical Retaliating Against Burrito Bowl Chain?

Could corporate saboteurs be planting E. coli in your Sofritas burrito?

I do not believe the moon landing was a hoax filmed in a TV studio or that Pres. Barack Obama is a Muslim Manchurian candidate. But that doesn't mean I automatically reject all conspiracy theories, including the latest buzz about Chipotle Mexican Grill being targeted by biochemical companies like Monsanto for its advocacy of local, organic and non-GMO ingredients.

In fact, I had this suspicion several days before I saw the first articles suggesting this possibility because I know how Big Food/Soda/Agriculture/Chemical operate. In short, they accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being anti-science fearmongers while foisting industry-sponsored unscientific research on the public as fact and creating fear around not consuming their highly processed products and byproducts.
Chubby Chipotle website was
another Big Food stealth campaign
to discredit burrito bowl chain

In the case of Chipotle, the fast food chain that boasts about its use of natural ingredients, the likelihood Big Ag and Big Chemical would take the bashing of their products sitting down were slim.

My suspicion about a possible conspiracy grew when I read an article last night in Natural News about some of the strains of E. coli found in Chipotle being genetically rare, a fact (i.e., not opinion) that was corroborated by such government sources as the FDA and CDC websites.

Reports of at least two disparate E. coli contaminations and several Norovirus incidents occurring so closely together -- a total of six separate events since July -- could be just a random coincidence. Or not. It could also be an organized attempt by adversaries of the second fastest growing fast food chain in the U.S. to discredit the company's highly publicized stance against genetically modified and chemicalized ingredients.

from Natural News
It didn't take long before the Internets were awash with "I told you so's" about needing to chemically wash and genetically alter foods to protect against foodborne illnesses. What may have looked like a fortuitous opportunity for the artificial food industry to blow its own horn could have been part of the overall campaign to first ruin the reputation of Chipotle and then convince the public that local, organic and non-GMO foods are really bad for you.

Was Chipotle too busy avoiding the fake dangers of GMOs to focus on actual food safety?
-- headline from Vox

When Eating Clean Is Dirty: Chipotle, ‘Fresh’ Offerings and Food Safety

-- headline from US News

It would not be the first time the processed food industry has banded together to chip away at Chipotle's growing popularity. The website Chubby Chipotle is backed by Big Food money hiding behind an innocuous sounding front group called The Center for Consumer Freedom.

Funny, but last time I checked, no one was kidnapping me in their Prius, driving me to Chipotle and forcing me to eat its food.

When I tweeted a link to the Chipotle conspiracy theory article from Natural News,  I should have expected a backlash based on the source. The website is a major target of so-called pro-science people who consider the site's founder Mike Adams of being an anti-science fearmonger.

Not surprisingly, I received such responses as
(At least @DebunkedByHaiku displayed some wit and did not rely on a Donald Trumpian style attack.)

Bottom line:

As nutty as most conspiracy theories sound, it is naive to believe companies never practice criminal behavior to further their aims. Think Volkswagen and Enron as just two top-of-mind examples.

With GMO labeling a hot topic right now, it is neither lunacy nor irrationality to posit that shady forces could be behind Chipotle's recent spate of bad publicity.

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