by Christina Cilento
Some Chipotle lovers are experiencing a carnitas-shaped hole in their hearts after the restaurant chain announced this week it will not be serving their pork option at hundreds of restaurants.
The menu change comes after Chipotle discovered during an audit last Friday that one of their major pork suppliers did not meet their standards for ethical treatment of animals. As opposed to continuing business with this supplier, the chain–which prides itself on “food with integrity”– decided to do away with the option in about a third of its locations.
The issue was living conditions for pigs. Chipotle’s “Responsibly Raised standards” stress humane treatment of animals by suppliers and require their pigs be “naturally raised,” without antibiotics and with a vegetarian diet. Part of these standards includes pigs having access to outdoors and not living in cramped conditions.
“We would rather not serve pork at all, than serve pork from animals that are raised in this way,” said company spokesperson Chris Arnold in an emailed statement.
While many of Chipotle’s more than 1,700 restaurants have said goodbye to carnitas indefinitely, the Evanston Church Street location will still be serving the meat, and said they are expecting a new shipment in this Monday.
Although he loves carnitas, School of Communication sophomore Harry Wood said he thinks the company was right to stick to its policy.
“I think they made a really good decision to disclose what they were doing,” Wood said. “It shows a trust of customers that they’re willing to say… ‘We’re taking the full hit so we don’t have to violate our principles.’”
NU Veg Society president Sydney Doe sees the situation a bit differently. She said that while Chipotle is “arguably better” than places like McDonald’s and Burger King, there’s still no such thing as a humane way to kill animals.
“Humane doesn’t mean anything when it comes to killing and torturing sentient beings,” she said.
She noted that some animal rights advocates think the carnitas situation might be a marketing campaign by Chipotle to emphasize the brand’s ethical standards.
Arnold said there is no timeline for when carnitas may make a comeback. In the mean time, the chain is exploring ways to supplement this loss and add to its pork supply.