US-based restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is testing radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology at nearly 200 restaurants in the greater Chicago area as well as at its Chicago distribution centre.

To develop this test, the restaurant chain has partnered with the Auburn University RFID Lab. The technology will be used by the company to improve traceability and inventory systems.

Chipotle Mexican Grill chief corporate affairs and food safety officer Laurie Schalow said: “We have been developing our RFID program for two years and see this innovation as the next evolution of traceability and food safety.

“We are excited to test this innovation in the field with our suppliers and restaurants to enhance our robust traceability program.” 

Chipotle said that the RFID labels will be used on meat, dairy, and avocados from five Chipotle suppliers.

The ingredients in the test will feature RFID enabled case labels, which will be scanned by RFID readers, which complement existing scanners in the restaurants.

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With this new technology, Chipotle expects to act swiftly on food safety and quality concerns.

Chipotle claims that it is one of the first restaurant companies to use RFID label system, which will be used to track ingredients from suppliers to restaurants through serialisation.

The company said that it has also collaborated with various companies including Mojix, a RFID software provider, Avery Dennison, a materials science and RFID innovator and RFID reader and encoder solutions provider Zebra Technologies.

Chipotle Mexican Grill chief restaurant officer Scott Boatwright said: “RFID labels transform inventory management into an automatic, digital function that optimizes restaurant operations and gives our Restaurant Support Centers access to inventory data in real-time.

“This integrated technology is improving our employee experience in participating restaurants while also benefiting our supply partners.” 

Last month, Chipotle partnered with Miso Robotics for an autonomous kitchen assistant called Chippy, which has been designed to make tortilla chips.