Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chipotle in the news: another argument for menu transparency

You probably read the headlines a couple of weeks back about Chipotle's pinto beans, which contain bacon, but do not include a disclosure about said bacon on in-store menu boards.

The story is both a testament to the power of social media as well as the importance of transparency on restaurant menus.

From the Huffington Post:

Chipotle has always advised on its website that vegetarian and vegan customers should avoid its pinto beans. The beans are cooked with "a small amount of bacon," unlike the Mexican chain's black beans, which are vegan. But in-store menus do not indicate the porkiness of the pinto, and Chipotle's burrito assemblers are instructed to inform customers of the bacon inclusion only if they order a burrito without other meat.  
The problem arose when a meat-eating, non-pork eating customer discovered that the pinto beans contained bacon.  The patron (and magazine editor, I might add) took to Twitter and wrote a letter to the chain's CEO.  

The story was well-publicized and have caused Chipotle to make changes to their in-store menus.

Menu transparency does not just come in the form of calorie disclosure.  Allergen declaration, vegetarian/vegan symbols, and nutrition information all exist to protect both the consumer and the restaurant operator.  The Chipotle story is a powerful example of why these disclosures are so important.

As a diner, what information do you look for on restaurant menus other than a description about the food?  As a restaurant operator, what information do you feel is important to include?


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