Living Vegan In Charlotte, NC – Easy Vegan Recipes – Vegan Restaurant, Product, and Cookbook Reviews

Chipotle Chicken Cross Contamination In Vegan Sofritas Bowl

Chicken In Chipotle Sofrita Bowl

Completely unretouched photo of chicken in my vegan Chipotle Sofritas bowl.

Several weeks ago, my partner and I tried Chipotle’s new vegan tofu offering, Sofritas, for the first time. I have to say, we were impressed. So impressed, in fact, that Sunday night my partner and I decided to have Sofritas again. We invited his vegetarian-all-her-life sister to accompany us.

I ordered the same Sofritas bowl as before – white rice, pinto beans, Sofritas, salsas.

Except this time … the Sofritas just didn’t taste the same (although the tofu I examined looked the same).

And about 3/4 of the way through, I noticed the bowl came with a little surprise.

“THAT’S a big piece of tofu,” I thought, prodding it with my fork.

And then I realized it was chicken. Not just a little shred of chicken, but a huge chunk – big enough to cut into four bite-size pieces.

I gagged.

My partner and his sister started in horror at the chicken in my bowl. She whipped out her phone and began documenting the cross contamination for me. These are her pictures, completely unaltered.

Chipotle Sofritas Cross Contamination

Now, I am always careful at these “make it while you watch” restaurants. I keep my gaze on the workers, making sure they don’t automatically throw a handful of cheese into my burrito or accidentally spoon out a serving of chicken or beef. The workers at Chipotle tonight seemed to be reasonably careful, waiting for instruction and scooping out of the proper bin. Additionally, the assembly area seemed tidy and clean. No red flags.

So how did chicken get into my vegan Sofritas bowl?

We called over the manager, a nice young man named Gerardo, and showed him the chicken.

He was very apologetic and offered a refund or another Sofritas bowl. He explained accidents and cross-contamination like that happened, because Sofritas are kept in the meat section and items occasionally fell off the spoons and ended up in other bins.

We suggested the Sofritas be kept in the lineup with the rice, beans, and veggies, and away from the meats.

Gerardo agreed that would be a good idea. He said Chipotle already separated the rice, beans, and veggies away from the meat and the guacamole away from the cheese. However, Chipotle Corporate dictates the exact order and placement of ingredients, and stores aren’t allowed to make changes on their own. He did give us the number of Chipotle Corporate to call with our complaint and suggestions.


You can bet Chipotle will be hearing from me!

I urge everyone to join me in asking Chipotle to move their Sofritas away from the meats to avoid this kind of cross-contamination. 

Unless and until they do, I will definitely not be eating any more Sofritas!

Chipotle’s Facebook Page:

Chipotle’s “Fan Email”:




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Categorised in: Living Vegan, Restaurant Reviews

34 Responses »

  1. Sorry you had this experience 😦

    • Thank you! I’m just glad I ordered a Sofritas bowl and was able to spot the chicken before eating it. If I’d ordered a burrito or taco, he chicken would have been more “hidden” and I probably wouldn’t have noticed the chicken until it was actually in my mouth! As it is, I do wonder if there were any smaller pieces I might have eaten without noticing. I felt very queasy last night.

      • this happened to me last night i ordered a burrito with sofritas and it was in my mouth i cried i felt disgusted and just really mad and upset !! i felt horrible and its been running through my mind if i had eaten any other pieces that were smaller. im now doing a 7 day water fast . I just cant believe that this happens they should have covered the tops of them so none of this would happen or be more organized and careful .

      • I am so sorry this happened to you! I noticed last time I was at Moe’s they kept their tofu away from the meats and with the veggies. I wish Chipotle would do something like that. I thought it was a big step when they re-arranged the placement of the tofu but I’ve heard too many stories about cross-contamination still happening. 😦

  2. The same thing has happened to me two times at Noodles & Co in Mooresville. Totally disgusting. How would they like a piece of poop or a fingernail in their food?

  3. Well, now I’ll stick to the veggie bowl for sure (bonus: guac)… but we’ll both be asking Chipotle to consider moving the Sofritas. I mean, we’ve never even gotten a shred of cheese in a veggie bowl, so… yeah, they can do better. Ugh.

  4. I sent my email to Chipotle. That is disgusting!!

  5. I still think all this discussion will be good for Chipotles if they do something about the complaint vegans have..I am not a vegan and I will try Chipotles, but I think there is way to much salt.

    • Well, right now they’ve lost me as a customer. I’ve since had vegans on FB tell me the same or similar happened to them (except they got pork instead of chicken, or some similar detail). It makes no sense for Chipotle to try to market to vegans and then set up their line items so the Sofritas are almost certain to get contaminated.

  6. Omg thats horrible. I remember cross contamination happening at so many restaurants with my vegitarian friends inckuding chipotle. They are just not careful! No excuse.

  7. Same thing happend to me today! I found chicken in my sofritas! Was a sad day 😦

  8. The pinto beans are not vegetarian! The workers there told me they are made with meat. You have to order the black beans.

    • Meredith, that was true for a number of years. In the past year or so, Chipotle has been phasing out the pinto beans with pork and replacing them with vegetarian pinto beans. Chipotle Corporate assures me that the pinto beans in ALL of their stores are now meat-free. This is the list of ingredients in the pinto beans: Water, Yellow Onion, Chipotle Chile, Rice Bran Oil, Cumin, Garlic, Oregano, Black pepper, Bay Leaf, Salt, Citrus Juice, Kosher Salt. You can find this information on their web site as well.

  9. I know this is an old post, but the same thing just happened to me, except the chicken piece was small enough that I was fooled and bit into it…BLECH!!!! I am SO disappointed that this happened and have already written to Chipotle to complain. Only after writing the complaint did I think to Google whether or not this was an ongoing issue…I really hope they fix this soon, since Chipotle is basically considered the gold-standard for vegetarian fast food (besides Veggie Grill!)

    • I am so sorry that happened to you! Do you remember how the food trays were set up … was the tofu closer to you or the server (did the server have to wave spoons of chicken over the tofu?) I’m pleased to announce, the Chipotle I had this particular problem with has rearranged its food serving bins. From vegan FB groups I’m in I’ve heard this cross contamination issue is getting better – but this was a VERY common problem at first! I wish they would move the tofu completely away from the meats. Good for you for writing … it’s only because we speak up, people will listen! Thanks for sharing your experience.

      • I have to admit that I wasn’t paying enough attention to notice where the tofu tray was placed. Amazingly, though, I’ve already heard back from a Chipotle rep (I wrote them less than an hour ago!). His response, beyond offering to send me a free meal card, was:

        I am so sorry to hear about this. When it comes to our Sofritas, we want these closest to the glass so that no meat products are pulled across them. Of course, there is the possibility of this happening, but we want to do all we can to prevent this. I am going to loop in our Daly City team to ensure we are on top of this.

        So it seems that by now it is national policy to keep the tofu closest to the glass, which is great. It does leave me wondering just how that piece of chicken did end up in my bowl, but I’m very much hoping it was a one-off thing.

      • Oh, that is so great! When that happened to me and I suggested it to the store manager, he told me Corporate designated the way their trays were set up and they were not allowed to place the trays any other way. He gave me the phone # to call and I got a very polite, “sorry that happened, we’ll look into it.” I do know my blog & fB post was shared quite a lot and I also posted in a number of fb veg groups asking people to call/write. It appears we did make a difference! So glad you spoke up and got a good response! I was personally a little puzzled that they would reach out to me as a vegan blogger to review their product and hold a tasting Meetup, but not adequately respond to my complaint. Looks like corporate policy is changing! 🙂

  10. I have emailed with corporate customer care before about this – I told them a long time ago that I saw chicken spilling into the sofritas. Then, months later I found chicken in my “vegan” burrito. Corporate hooked me up with 2 free meals.

    It happened again tonight, time to write another email. This is ridiculous.

    • Oh, wow. Most Chipotles now have the tofu furthest from the server to minimize chicken spilling into it … sad this is still happening! At Moe’s the other day I noticed they had their tofu completely separate from the meats, and grouped with the veggies – the mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Perhaps we need to start asking Chipotle to do the same.

  11. This happened to me today! I am very upset because I noticed what appears to be brisket once I got to work. I don’t know who to contact but I really hope they do something about any cross contamination accidents because I love chipotle and would hate to stop eating there. I usually love it but now I’m hungry and bought food I won’t eat and it’s not cool man. 😦

    • Wow, I am so sorry that happened to you! I keep *hoping* Chipotle will make some changes that would make cross contamination rare. Moe’s keeps their tofu with their veggies, and I hear far fewer stories of cross-contamination about Moe’s. Interestingly, I read today Chipotle is expected to post a huge first quarter loss, largely because of all their issues with e. coli. I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection between sloppy handling of vegan food and sloppy handling of food in general. It’s a shame, because the food IS good. I had Chipotle for lunch myself today – love the guac!

      • The exact same thing happened to us today. Big pieces of chicken in sofritas. Same excuse. Worse part, after my complaint, the manager didn’t change the sofritas. I went back to order another bowl after 15 mins and could still see chunks of chicken in the sofritas. I will be reporting to the corporate as well. They need to move tofu away from other meat.

      • I’m so sorry that happened to you. You are absolutely right, they do need to move the tofu away from the other meat. Please do let corporate know what happened.

  12. Wow! I don’t feel alone. The original post was in 2014, eight years ago and nothing has changed. A few months ago, I was eating a sofritas bowl in Florida and encountered something strange in my mouth only to find out it was some sort of meat. I was very disappointed and did complain to the manager showing the evidence. A couple of days ago in Maryland, the same thing happened. This time it was a carryout order and I am really disgusted. Fortunately I have witnesses and pictures. Chipotle HAS TO DO BETTER. I am looking for thoughts regarding my choices? An apology or the promise to try harder is not sufficient. Nothing has changed since the original post from 8 years ago.

    • I stopped going to Chipotle – instead, I visit Moe’s, Qdoba, and Pancheros.

    • Hi Bharat! So sad to hear your experieces. I, too, have been going to Chipotle a lot over the past few years when road tripping and have not had major problems. Still have experienced minor problems, like finding small dollops of sour cream or cheese. But at least those I can see and remove. I’ve moved to just veggies at Chipotle (no sofritos) or eating at Moe’s when I can find one. I’ve never had a problem with Moe’s. All I can suggest is keep emailing Chipotle and sharing your experiences on social media and Yelp.


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