Sunday, December 30, 2007

Chipotle Mexican Grill is Nation's First Chain to go Entirely rBGH-Free

Survey Shows That 81 Percent of Consumers Would Prefer to Purchase
Dairy Products Produced without Added Hormones

DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 5, 2007--Before the end 2007, Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG and CMG.B) will no longer serve any cheese made with milk from cows treated with the synthetic hormone rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone). That will make Chipotle the first national restaurant chain to eliminate rBGH entirely from items on its menu.

Chipotle began serving 100% rBGH-free sour cream last year, and has begun shifting to rBGH-free cheese over the last several months, a move it will complete by year-end, making 100% of its cheese rBGH-free. It also serves rBGH-free, organic milk at some of its locations.

rBGH, also called recombinant bovine somatotropin or rBST, is a synthetic hormone that stimulates milk production in dairy cattle. Use of rBGH has been banned in a number of countries, including 25 European nations, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Since its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1993, the use of the hormone in this country has been controversial for many reasons, including potential health concerns for humans and the animals treated with the hormone.

"We want to change the way the world thinks about and eats fast food," said Chipotle Founder, Chairman and CEO, Steve Ells. "Serving our customers cheese and sour cream without rBGH is the responsible thing to do. It's better for our customers, better for the animals, and better for the food system."

Today's announcement represents the latest development in Chipotle's Food With Integrity mission - a commitment to making socially responsible, gourmet food available and affordable so everyone can eat better. To that end, Chipotle now serves more naturally raised meat than any restaurant in the world - meat raised humanely without antibiotics or added growth hormones, and fed a pure vegetarian diet. Beyond naturally raised meat and rBGH-free dairy, 25 percent of the black and pinto beans Chipotle serves are organically grown.

"We care about the quality of the ingredients we are serving," said Ells. "Everyone should have access to great-quality, great-tasting food. So, we look for ingredients that are grown and raised with care and respect."

According to the results of a recent survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, 81 percent of respondents would prefer to buy dairy products derived from cows that do not receive synthetic hormones, assuming little or no pricing difference. Other findings from the Opinion Research Corporation survey include:

  • Of those who said they would not prefer to buy rBGH-free dairy products, 64 percent said that they would buy rBGH-free dairy products if the synthetic hormone was linked to health issues with humans, and 42 percent said they would if the use of rBGH was linked to health issues with dairy cattle.
  • Fifty-eight percent of respondents were aware that many dairy cows in this country are treated with rBGH.
  • Nearly half of those who had no preference said they would prefer to buy rBGH-free dairy products if they knew the hormone was banned in a number of other countries.

"Chipotle has been making positive changes to the food supply system for a number of years, and we're extremely pleased that they've chosen to make being rBGH-free part of that commitment," said Rick North, director of the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility's Campaign for Safe Food, a non-profit group that's been collaborating on a nationwide education campaign opposing rBGH. "As consumers become more aware of the issues associated with rBGH use and the alternatives companies like Chipotle are providing, they are clearly stating their preference for rBGH-free dairy products."

About Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG and CMG.B) offers a focused menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla) and salads made from fresh, high-quality raw ingredients, prepared using classic cooking methods and served in a distinctive atmosphere. Through our vision of Food with Integrity, Chipotle is seeking better food not only from a variety of fresh ingredients, but ingredients that are sustainably grown and naturally raised with respect for animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food. Chipotle opened its first restaurant in 1993 and operates more than 670 restaurants today. For more information, visit www.chipotle.com.

CONTACT: Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chris Arnold, 303-222-5912 carnold@chipotle.com

SOURCE: Chipotle Mexican Grill

2 comments:

  1. It's true that Chipotle deserves praise for healthy and good-for-the-environment food as part of the chain’s “Food with Integrity” commitment. What this commitment and the article leave out, however, is justice.

    Chipotle’s definition of “Integrity” doesn’t seem to include the notion of human rights – or at least not the right to a fair wage, the right to overtime pay, the right to organize, or the right to basic benefits like health insurance, sick leave, paid vacation or pension. Tomato pickers in Florida, for example, earn about 45 cents for every 32-lb bucket of tomatoes they pick – a rate hasn’t changed in nearly 30 years. On average, farmworkers in this country earn $7,500 - $10,000 per year. Many farmworkers toil under conditions that amount to modern-day slavery: there have been five federal criminal prosecutions by the Department of Justice and the FBI for modern-day slavery in Florida fields in the past seven years, involving over a thousand farmworkers.

    While it is wonderful that Chipotle provides organic and healthy food, and other restaurants should do the same, the definition of integrity must also include the full respect of human rights for the farmworkers who cultivate and harvest the food.

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  2. Thank you for pointing this out. My guess is this is true of many fast food companies. I just recently read the same statistics about Burger King. I can't condone the unfair practices of any business, however I am glad to see at least one fast food restaurant offer a healthier alternative to consumers.

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I sure appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts. I may not always have time to respond or acknowledge them but I do read them all and highly value your presence here.

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