DENVER – Chipotle Mexican Grill, which calls itself the largest restaurant seller of responsibly raised meat and operates more than 1,500 restaurants, reported in a press release on Aug. 13 it has not changed its standards for responsibly raised beef. Chipotle’s responsibly raised beef, chicken and pork continue to come from animals that are never given antibiotics or added hormones.
This statement was issued after a number of reports surfaced in the media earlier on Aug. 13 that stated Chipotle was adjusting its standards on antibiotic beef (see Chipotle adjusts standards on antibiotic-treated beef in the Aug. 13 edition of www.meatpoultry.com.) Although the company has considered new protocols, including one that would allow animals to be treated with antibiotics only when necessary for their continued health, that protocol has not been implemented, according to the company’s founder.
“We decided to start serving meat from animals that have never been given antibiotics or added hormones more than a decade ago,” explained Steve Ells, Chipotle founder, chairman and co-CEO. “And we continue to be committed to the elimination of antibiotics that are used to promote growth in livestock being raised in confinement operations.”
Chipotle’s current protocol allows using antibiotics to treat sick animals, but those animals must be removed from Chipotle’s supply. The company is currently evaluating if this strict “never-ever” antibiotic protocol is best for the animals, or whether animals can be treated when necessary and allowed to remain in the herd.
“We are always looking to improve our protocols in order to ensure that we are buying the very best sustainably raised ingredients,” Ells said. “Many experts, including some of our ranchers, believe that animals should be allowed to be treated if they are ill and remain in the herd. We are certainly willing to consider this change, but we are continuing to evaluate what’s best for our customers, our suppliers and the animals.”