One-third of Chipotle menus no longer include pork carnitas this week after the company says a pork supplier was in violation of its quality standards.
While the supplier has yet to be named, it’s likely a very large supplier considering the impact it’s having on so many locations.
"This is fundamentally an animal welfare decision and it's rooted in our unwillingness to compromise our standards where animal welfare is concerned," Chris Arnold, Chipotle's communications director told the Washington Post.
Chipotle says it is not sure how long the supply will be compromised but that it’s committed to its quality standards like antibiotic-free animal products, and is not willing to source an alternative pork that does not meet its requirements.
"Given these stark differences, serving pork from conventionally raised pigs is not an option to us," Arnold said. "We would rather not serve pork at all, than serve pork from animals that are raised in this way."
Chipotle came under criticism recently for sourcing grass-fed beef from Australia as U.S. supplies could not meet the chain’s demands. And according to the Washington Post, the company had to serve conventionally raised beef in 2013 “after it became clear that there was no longer enough antibiotic and hormone free beef to go around.”
Chipotle notes that the reason it won’t serve conventional pork like it did with beef is because of animal welfare issues, which might indicate the use of gestation crates by the supplier. The practice keeps pregnant and nursing sows in restrictive cages so small the animals cannot turn around. But Chipotle has not said what the supplier's violations are.
The issue also raises questions about the chain’s ability to meet demand as its popularity grows. It has been outspoken about its ability to source local and cleaner ingredients than competing major fast food chains while still keeping prices competitive. But a massive shortage like this indicates otherwise.
Coincidentally, the company is offering free food if customers purchase the newest Chipotle menu item: vegan sofritas. Purchase the tofu-based sofritas on January 26th and you can use your receipt for a free burrito, bowl, tacos or salad of your choice within the next 30 days.
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