Earlier this year, Chipotle Mexican Grill – in typical Chipotle fashion – sent its fans into a frenzy after announcing it was experiencing a pork shortage after a supplier failed to meet its strict animal welfare standards. As such, Chipotle explained that pork sales at roughly one-third of its U.S. restaurants would be suspended.
Carnitas lovers across the country let out a collective gasp and have been anxiously awaiting the return of the much-loved menu item.
As Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s communications director, told Reuters in a report here, a routine audit revealed the pork supplier fell short of meeting the restaurant’s animal welfare standards, which includes providing pigs access to the outdoors or housing them in deeply bedded barns. And no antibiotics can be used.
Of course, that’s not the real story. Click here to learn more about what really happened.
"We could fill that shortfall with conventionally raised pork, but the animal welfare standards fall well short of our requirements, and (we) simply aren't willing to make that compromise,” Arnold said.
Now, six months later, the popular Mexican chain announced it had found a pork supplier that meets its standards – Karro Food in the United Kingdom.
“It has always been our preference to get our pork (and other meats) from domestic suppliers, but right now the supply simply isn't available," a Chipotle spokesperson told CNNMoney. "Upwards of 95 percent of pork produced in this country is conventionally raised, so the available supply that meets our high standards is relatively small."
Chipotle also noted one fairly important detail – Karro uses antibiotics “when necessary to keep an animal healthy.”
“While we prefer to buy pork raised entirely without antibiotics, we are proud to be serving pork from Karro because the responsible way Karro uses antibiotics is consistent with their extremely high animal-welfare standards,” Chipotle said in this Bloomberg report.
So much for “food with integrity.” Or rather, integrity with consistency.
Lori Stevermer, President of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, said it best in her letter to Chipotle, explaining, “Karro does not give pigs non-therapeutic doses of antibiotics for growth promotion. Your comments go on to state that as a result, some of the pork Chipotle purchases from the UK comes from animals that were treated with antibiotics under veterinary supervision. That same practice is followed here in the United States by America’s pig farmers.”
“I know many farmers who treat animals humanely and give them antibiotics only when they are sick and keep their pigs in the barns to protect them from freezing temperatures and scorching heat,” she continued. “Those farmers live right here in the U.S. Chipotle, have you taken the time to talk to them?”
Some of Chipotle’s fans aren’t buying their hypocrisy either. Here are just a few comments left on their Facebook page:
- “What a joke! There are plenty of pork producers here in the US that could supply them adequately. They choose not to - the UK! What a disgrace.”
- “You stopped buying pork from American producers? I'll NEVER again eat at your restaurant!”
- “How about serve the US pig? They are the best taken care of in the world, far from abused in any way. Have you ever been to a pig farm?”
As agricultural advocate Ryan Goodman stressed, “Once again, how does it fit sustainability goals when shipping food across the ocean because you claim ethically raised meats aren't raised here at home? Chipotle needs to get out and meet some of the farmers they're campaigning against."
So Chipotle - American pig farmers produce the world's food with integrity. Do you?