Consumers are literally sick of hypocritical restaurant giant Chipotle – and so are America’s farmers and ranchers.
Earlier this week, at least 120 Boston College students contracted norovirus after eating at a nearby Chipotle restaurant – the incident marks the restaurant’s fourth foodborne illness outbreak this year.
To make matters even worse for Chipotle, according to Fortune magazine, the restaurant blames the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and media, especially concerning their E. coli nightmare.
“Because the media likes to write sensational headlines, we can probably see when somebody sneezes that they’re going to say, ‘Ah, it’s E. Coli from Chipotle’ for a little bit of time,” Chief Financial Officer Jack Hartung told reporters at an investor conference this week.
The blame is falling on deaf ears though. A poll by YouGov Brand Index, which interviews 4,500 people daily, showed Chipotle's brand perception index plummeting from a 6.5 on Oct. 31 to -15.7 on Nov. 15.
Chipotle has warned its same-store sales could fall this quarter for the first time in company history – all because of the outbreaks. The company is anticipating a decline between 8 percent and 11 percent. Analysts expect these same-store sales to slump through at least June 2016.
For America’s farmers and ranchers, however, the response is poetic justice after years of attacks from Chipotle. From its 2013 “Scarecrow” advertisement to the four-part 2014 “Farmed and Dangerous” satire, Chipotle made it loud and clear it doesn’t stand with most of America's farmers and ranchers.
In January, Chipotle dramatically announced it had suspended pork sales at one third of its U.S. stores after a routine audit uncovered a supplier who was not complying with its animal welfare standards.
Of course, that’s not the real story. Click here to learn more about what really happened.
Six months later, Chipotle heroically announced it had indeed found a pork supplier to meet its standards - Karro Food in the United Kingdom. The company also noted one fairly important detail – Karro uses antibiotics “when necessary to keep an animal healthy.”
But wait – did Chipotle forget it doesn’t support the use of antibiotics in livestock?
As Lori Stevermer, President of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, pointed out in a letter to Chipotle, “Karro does not give pigs non-therapeutic doses of antibiotics for growth promotion. Your comments go on to state that as a result, some of the pork Chipotle purchases from the UK comes from animals that were treated with antibiotics under veterinary supervision. That same practice is followed here in the United States by America’s pig farmers.”
Chipotle’s headaches don’t even stop there. In September, Chipotle found itself facing a lawsuit alleging it misled customers with false claims following its decision to go “GMO-free.”
As someone once said, “Karma has no menu. You get served what you deserve.”
Consider yourself served, Chipotle. Be careful though - karma isn't non-GMO.