Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. halted pork sales at about one-third of its approximately 1,700 U.S. restaurants after discovering violations of its livestock-treatment policies at a supplier.
“This is fundamentally an animal-welfare decision and is rooted in our unwillingness to compromise our standards,” Chris Arnold, a spokesman for the Denver-based company, said in an email. He didn’t name the supplier or describe the violations. “The standards for all of our responsibly raised meats are very high, but the differences in animal welfare are greatest with pork.”
Chipotle said on Wednesday that some stores in Missouri and Kansas are affected.
Chipotle is protecting its image as a socially responsible company, part of its appeal to younger customers who also seek healthier options and higher-quality ingredients. The company has created short films to educate Americans about industrial farming and hosted festivals with organic snacks and local food and drink purveyors.
Pork sales will be cut off at about 560 U.S. restaurants. Chipotle is exploring options to boost its pork supply, including adding new providers and increasing output from its existing vendors, Arnold said. He added that replacing the lost supply will “take some time.”
Chipotle won’t serve pork from conventional sources as it sorts out the supplier issue, Arnold said.
“Conventionally raised pigs generally do not have access to the outdoors, spend their lives in densely crowded buildings, live on hard, slatted floors with no ability to root and are given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick,” Arnold said. “We would rather not serve pork at all than serve pork from animals raised in that way.”