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Jul 142009
 

From Green Right Now Reports:

Chipotle, the burrito and taco restaurant chain that has cut against the fast food grain with its adherence to serving natural, sustainbly raised meat, got its day in the Washington limelight yesterday.

The chain’s founder, chairman and Co-CEO Steve Ells told a U.S. House committee that while it hasn’t been easy to keep consumer prices reasonable while serving pricier sustainable meats, he felt it preserved the restaurant chain’s integrity.

He decided in the 1990s, when he founded Chipotle, that he did not want to provide a “typical fast food experience” and as that evolved, the chain increasingly sought and found sustainably produced foods, eventually becoming a leading end user of natural meats. This year it will serve more than 60 million pounds of naturally raised meat – “more than any other restaurant company – including all of its pork and chicken, and more than 60 percent of its beef,” according to Chipotle. (The chain also serves a veggie burrito with black beans.)

Ells said he does not want to support the inhumane conditions suffered by livestock in the industrial food system, where large CAFOs crowd animals together and feed has been found to contain animal byproducts.

Critics of CAFOs blame the conditions for causing animals to suffer and become diseased; which leads to their extensive treatment with antibiotics. Studies show that industrially raised meat has contributed to the rise of antibiotic-resistance among people.

“The crowding and contamination associated with this artificial living environment fosters disease,” Ells told the committee members. “So the pigs are fed some 10 million pounds of antibiotics – an amount that is three times greater than all antibiotics used to treat human illness. I did not want Chipotle’s success to be tied to this kind of exploitation.”

Ells was testifying on behalf of a bill aimed at reducing antibiotic use for livestock, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) of 2009 (HR 1549), a new version of a bill designed to limit antibiotic use among animals that was introduced in March 2009.