Maybe it’s the crushing heat we’re experiencing here in
Kansas that has me so easily annoyed but upon reading the latest
stupidity-driven marketing decision from Chipotle, I felt I needed to bring
the blog out of dormancy and share my two dollars (two cents won’t cut it this
Photo courtesy: Chance Hunley
A lot of my close friends and family will joke with me
occasionally and say, "Hey let's go to Chipotle for lunch!" They do
this because a) they know Chipotle’s marketing and business practices make my
blood boil b) they like to see me get riled up c) they know very few people who
despise Chipotle as much as I do and d) they are in agreement that the burrito
giant is off its rocker when it comes to marketing and how it sources product.
If you need further reminding of why I despise this
restaurant, you can add “hypocrisy
runs rampant” to the long list of reasons I haven't eaten there since 2007.
If I were an American pig producer, I’d be ticked – I
mean, I’m ticked already and I don’t even have a stake in this game. You may
remember way back in January of this year, Chipotle said that carnitas would
not be offered in all stores because one of their suppliers wasn’t adhering to
the company’s holier-than-thou animal welfare standards. They made it out to be
a pork “shortage.”
Do you know what those standards actually say? Let
me tell you. Chipotle wanted a farmer, who had been raising pigs for 30 years,
to cut a hole in the side of his barn so that the pigs inside could go outside in
the snow and single digit temperatures. There
are several reasons that pigs are raised indoors, which I’ve discussed before.
They don’t have fur coats, they aren’t very hardy – they will get sick and die,
or get eaten by a coyote. Raising pigs inside is safer and better for
their wellbeing. Additionally, Chipotle has a “never-ever” policy on
antibiotic use which gives a farmer two options, essentially. If a pig is sick
the farmer can give the animal antibiotics and wait for the proper withdrawal
time before sending the animal to slaughter, which ensures that no
antibiotics enter the food supply (thousands upon thousands of
responsible pig farmers do this to ensure safe pork products every day). In
doing so and raising their animals humanely by providing health care, they are
removing their animals from Chipotle’s supply chain. However, they can choose not
to treat the animal and sell a sick pig (if it lives through the disease) to
Chipotle for a supposed premium. You don’t need an advanced degree in animal
science to realize that it’s whacko to deny health treatment to a sick animal.
I wouldn’t do that to my dog or horses and I damn sure wouldn’t do it to an
animal that I hope to be selling or would be using to feed my family.
The thing with antibiotics is that they are a necessary
tool that farmers need to help their animals in fighting off nasty bacteria.
There are many times throughout a pig’s life that they are more susceptible to
disease such as when a few groups of pigs that have never been around each
other start buddying up. Think of it as kindergarten for piglets – all those
little piggies hanging out on the monkey bars, sharing each other’s boogers and
coughing on their hooves. Another example is if the weather turns nasty or
chilly and some pigs get the swine equivalent of a sinus infection. These
ailments call for treatment and it’s downright cruel to deny treatment to a
|This pig, like so many others, is raised indoors to protect it from the elements and predators.|
Chipotle doesn’t care. Use antibiotics and those pigs
can’t be marketed through their supply chain. To hell with animal welfare, they
have to keep those $10/1000 calorie burritos pumping out the door.
So now that you have an idea of the bizarre thought
process behind Chipotle’s animal welfare standards, let me get back to the
Because there was a “shortage” of pork here in the U.S. (Lie.
No shortage of responsibly raised pork or beef in the U.S.) good ole Chip
jumped the pond and started sourcing pork from Karro Food, a U.K. based
company. And guess what?
Karro Food is allowed to use antibiotics in the event of
illness in the swine herd.
When asked why the restaurant tyrant decided to let Karro
Food, a foreign company, use antibiotics on sick animals but refused to extend
that same standard to American producers, this is what Chipotle replied with:
Chipotle also did a nice job of explaining how
antibiotics are used responsibly by farmers, but apparently only on U.K. pork
farms. Too bad they couldn’t just allow all farmers this necessary technology
instead of continually weaving a web of consumer misinformation. They stated:
“Our decision to source pork from this new supplier does
not mean that Chipotle’s animal welfare protocols are changing at this time.
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.”
This befuddles me. I have no idea why they would actually
move to use reasonable science messages to defend antibiotics use in one
country but not in another, when both are comparable in their animal welfare
protocols. Hey Chipotle, here’s a #TruthBomb, pull your nose down out of the
air long enough to take a look around fly-over country and you’ll find that
American farmers use antibiotics responsibly too.
“This does not mean that antibiotics are present in the
meat. All animals treated with antibiotics (both in Europe and the U.S.) must
undergo a withdrawal period before they are slaughtered, which means that meat
from a pig treated with antibiotics will not contain antibiotic residue, just
like meat from an animal that was never given antibiotics.”
I honestly don’t even know how to explain how I feel about
this. Even more so, I cannot fathom what it must be like to be so unabashedly
hypocritical. My best guess is that Chipotle needs a large supplier and Karro
can accommodate their needs; however, Karro isn’t willing to back down from
responsible antibiotic use because they have a good handle on common sense.
So there you go – another slap to the American farmer’s
face from an unhealthy burrito kingpin. The good news is that people are
starting to wake up to the vicious scheming of Chipotle. If you have spare
time, read a few of these recent links.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to be a loyal patron of
Qdoba. It’s more fun to pronounce and the food isn’t soured with the taste of
guilt and farmer’s tears.
**Point of clarification: This post is not me saying that organic or natural pork production is wrong, cruel or unnecessary. This post is about Chipotle's BLATANT hypocrisy regarding their double standards for pork production between U.S. and U.K. producers. Agriculture needs all kinds of people and all kinds of production; there is room for everyone. I have mentioned in comments below that instead of convention aland organic getting up in arms against each other, we need to link arms and fight against these animal rights extremists and anti-technology advocates. If you have further comments regarding organic/natural and conventional, feel free to contact me (email is on About Me page). As always, civil discourse is appropriate and I appreciate your comments and feedback.
Labels: animal welfare, animal well-being, antibiotics, chipotle, farmers, overpriced burritos, pigs, pork