Chipotle scores 'A' on policy regarding animal antibiotic use
Chipotle Mexican Grill has earned an A grade in the Chain Reaction III Report and Scorecard, a ranking of the country's largest fast food and fast casual restaurant companies based on their policies for antibiotic use in farm animals. Chipotle has received A grades in each of the three years the study has been conducted, according to a company press release.
"We began serving meat from animals raised without antibiotics in 1999, and continue to be a leader in this area today," said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and CEO at Chipotle. "Doctors, public health officials and other experts agree that there is a growing risk of antibiotic-resistant infection, and the overuse of antibiotics in meat production is a significant part of that problem. Good animal husbandry reduces the need for antibiotics in livestock and promotes better animal welfare. We have simply chosen to serve meat raised in a way that emphasizes care over the use of chemicals."
Of the 25 restaurant companies surveyed for the report, only two (Panera Bread and Chipotle) received A grades, while 11 received Fs. Chipotle scored 97 percent of the total points possible.
Chipotle began its journey to serve Responsibly Raised-brand meat, from animals raised in more humane ways and without the use of antibiotics or added hormones, when it started serving pork from Niman Ranch in 1999. Today, all of the company’s meat comes from animals raised without the routine use of antibiotics.
Antibiotic-resistant disease is an increasing problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that at least 23,000 people each year die from antibiotic-resistant infections. One cause of the mounting problem of antibiotic-resistant illness is the routine use of antibiotics in industrial animal agriculture. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, some 70 percent of all medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. are intended for animal agriculture, not for the treatment of human illness.
"We made that decision simply because we thought it was the right thing to do — the right thing for farmers, for animal welfare, and for human health," Ells said. "While we are pleased to see other restaurant companies following our lead on this issue, this report shows there is still more work to be done across the industry, and we hope that others will make this a priority in the same way that Chipotle has."
The report details
Chain Reaction III was conducted by six public interest organizations working to curb the routine use of antibiotics in industrial animal agriculture, including the Consumers Union, National Resources Defense Council, Center for Food Safety, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Keep Antibiotics Working, and U.S. PIRG Education Fund.
Scoring criteria for Chain Reaction III evaluated restaurants offering chicken, beef, turkey and pork. The scorecard awards a total of 100 total points in three key areas:
- Policy regarding antibiotic use.
- The implementation of antibiotic policies.
- Transparency. If a company serves only three types of meat or poultry, the maximum possible score is 75 points; with two meats the maximum number of points available is 50 points. Chipotle, which does not serve turkey, earned 73 out of 75 points possible or 97 percent of the total points available for the company.