Chipotle prides itself on its meat policy of responsibly raised, antibiotic-free beef, chicken and pork. But that could be changing soon, as the burrito chain says it’s considering the idea of allowing cows that have been treated with antibiotics to remain in the supply chain. It’s only thinking about it so far — until now, only sick animals were allowed to be treated and then they had to be removed from the rest of the herd, and not end up in stores.
The chain says there’s simply not enough beef right now that meet current standards, reports USA Today, prompting it to review its “never-ever” policy on antibiotics. It says it might let suppliers sell animals that had been treated with antibiotics only when they’re sick, and not simply as a matter of course.
“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,” said Chipotle founder and co-CEO Steve Ells, in a statement. “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.”
He added that animals won’t be fed the antibiotics just so they can be raised in tight spaces.
“We continue to be committed to the elimination of antibiotics that are used to promote growth in livestock being raised in confinement operations,” Ells said.
A spokesman added that the process of potentially changing the supply chain is “more of an ongoing thing,” and consumers shouldn’t expect any immediate switch.
For now, we are staying the course,” he said. “We buy more naturally raised meats than any other restaurant in the world.”