Antibiotic Resistance, Business, Food Safety and Human Illness, Lifestyle

Is Chipotle having a moral awakening, or is it their pocketbook?

Last week, Chipotle announced that some beef they serve would be from animals that had been given treatment antibiotics, which was a big change from their current “naturally raised” policies that don’t allow any beef from cows that were ever given antibiotics. This was good news for the beef cattle of the country, until we found out later that they were “just kidding.”

Have you ever gone to the doctor feeling like “death warmed over” and been sent home with no medicine?  This is often the situation for a cow in farms that are raising antibiotic free (ABF) animals.  Because receiving a treatment means you will, in most cases, make less money for your producer, you are sent home with no treatment. Today, Panera won’t take you. Hyatt won’t take you. Chipotle tells their consumers they won’t take you – but they actually will, prefaced with a small sign.

Chris Arnold said in an email that Chipotle was going to start selling beef from cows that had been given treatment antibiotics (still banning meat from those given prevention antibiotics). I thought this was a good step in the right direction, until he retracted his statement and said that Chipotle will stand behind their current manipulation of the consumer with their “no antibiotics ever” campaign. Campaigns like this one are confusing for the consumer, who may think that conventional meat leaves “antibiotics in their burrito bowl.” Just because an animal was given antibiotics does not mean that there are antibiotics or even antibiotic residues in your food.

This “no antibiotics ever” policy only applies, of course, when they have the beef raised without antibiotics on hand. Apparently, when they do run out, they abandon their famous “ethically conscious” campaign, and put up a small sign that says that their beef doesn’t in fact come from antibiotic-free farms. I suppose those who miss this small sign won’t sleep well when they find out that they ate perfectly healthy beef from a conventional farm.

So, are you confused about Chipotle’s stand on this issue? So are we. Now the question stands, why are they considering switching to allowing beef treated with antibiotics? Did Chipotle arrive at this decision because they are concerned about the fact that animals may suffer on ABF farms that are striving to fill a quota of non-treated meat? Or did they make this decision for financial gain?  Their announcement said there was a shortage of ABF meat. Shortage usually means increased cost.

Chipotle and the others seem to be selling a moral conscience driven product. If that is true, then I appeal to their conscience to make the final decision to allow beef treated with antibiotics and let the piglets and the chicks of the world be treated also. I do not support antibiotic overuse or misuse, by farmers or veterinarians. But I think “the doctor (vet) knows best.”


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