UPDATE: A Chipotle spokesman disputes the characterization of the company's reported shift in the type of beef it uses, noting that antibiotics will only be used in limited situations.
Oh, Chipotle, is it really worth saving a few dollars if it means serving us beef that has been potentially treated with antibiotics? Don't you realize how many people carve out six minutes each day, line up next to your stainless-steel troughs, and respect your sneeze-guards so they can be ensured that their barbacoa is precious and antibiotic-free?
Chipotle is likely going to at least partially break its years-long promise (and that cute commercial) of naturally-raised meat today, with the company announced that it may start serving up beef (barbacoa and steak) treated with antibiotics in some situations. "The burrito seller will use meat from cattle treated with antibiotics because of an illness, which previously wasn’t permitted to be sold in its restaurants," a spokesman for the company said in an e-mail, making clear Chipotle doesn't approve of antibiotic-treated beef if drugs were used to make the animals bigger.
The move isn't taking place because the company wants to stray from its original promise. The company is probably aiming to cut costs, Bloomberg's Leslie Patton explains: "The change in Chipotle’s practices comes as U.S. beef production is projected to plunge to a 21-year low next year, threatening higher costs."
So what do consumers think? Will the change in beef change the way consumers pick their burrito? A visit to the SoHo Chipotle near The Atlantic Wire office revealed that no one really cared about the coming change—perhaps signaling that no one is really too invested in Chipotle's meat credos. And that Chipotle eaters are not major food snobs.
"I grew up in Ohio, so it's whatever," a middle-aged man told us, while his dining companion stated: "It matters, but I'm not going to run away." Younger patrons felt the same way. "I feel better when it's natural, but yeah, I'm still gonna eat it," a teenage girl told us, with her friends nodding in agreement. The line was out the door when The Wire left the Chipotle premises.