Chipotle stopped serving pork at hundreds of restaurants yesterday after suspending a supplier that violated its “responsibly raised” standards. People are panicking, and calling the carnitas shortage a pork-ocalypse

Maybe the scariest part of #carnitasgate: Chris Arnold, a spokesman for the Mexican food chain, told The Associated Press that Chipotle does not have a timeline for when carnitas would return to affected stores (about 1/3 of all Chipotle locations), and said “It’s hard to say how long it will last.”

This is the first time in the history of Chipotle that the company stopped serving a topping for its burritos and bowls. Arnold said the company learned of the violation by the pork supplier on Friday through a routine audit, and that most of the issues related to the violations concerned the housing for the pigs.

Those who readily subscribe to conspiracy theories might think this is nothing more than a marketing ploy for Chipotle. Are you sitting there right now thinking: Damn, Chipotle is a stand-up company with high ethical standards and a focus on sustainable farming practices? Exactly.

Or, is #carnitasgate just an elaborate ruse to finally get people to order sofritas? On the landing page right now, there’s a large picture of the tofu sofritas burrito with this promise: “Order sofritas on January 26 and get a free burrito.”new


We hope that’s not the truth, since withholding a nation’s carnitas is very un-American.

On past occasions, Chipotle customers may have noticed signs saying a restaurant is serving meat that doesn’t meet the company’s “responsibly raised” standards. That’s typically because Chipotle has trouble securing supplies of beef raised without antibiotics or hormones, Arnold told AP. The company then serves beef that was “conventionally raised.”

That is not happening with the carnitas, however. “In this case, we won’t make that kind of substitution,” Arnold said in an email to AP.

Carnitas-worshipping Americans are obviously not happy.

A representative from Chipotle confirmed to Eater that the pork-ocalypse was due to the pork supplier’s inconsistencies with the company’s protocol. The rep explains,

“We did suspend a pork supplier after a routine audit showed some inconsistencies with our protocol. Under our standards, pigs are raised with access to the outdoors or in deeply bedded barns and without the use of antibiotics. Because of this suspension, we have a shortfall in our pork supply and are currently not serving our carnitas (which is pork) in about a third of our restaurants.

We could fill this shortfall with conventionally raised pork, but the differences in our pigs are raised conventionally is in stark difference with our protocol in some very important animal welfare areas. Rather than compromise the standard, we have opted to stop serving pork in some of our restaurants rather than compromise our standards.”

[via Associated Press, Chipotle]

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