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News 2386 views last update:Feb 25, 2016

US restaurant chain looks to UK for pork supplies

The American restaurant chain Chipotle has signed a deal with UK producer Karro Food to supply pork. Thanks to the new supplier, Chipotle can restore the popular carnitas to the menus in its restaurants. However it has not been announced how much pork Karro will ship to the US.

In January, Chipotle suspended one of its US pork suppliers for not meeting its pig-housing standards, resulting in a shortage of carnitas, which is a burrito and taco filling made from shredded pork shoulder. The pork shortage affected roughly 560 of the chain's 1,800 US restaurants. This shortage occurred because our animal welfare auditors found one of our suppliers to be violating some of Chipotle's core animal welfare standards, and we suspended all purchases from this supplier, the company says on its website.

US restaurant chain suspends pork sales
US restaurant chain, Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced that it is to suspend pork sales at about a third of its restaurant outlets, after a routine audit revealed one of its suppliers was not complying with its animal-welfare standards, reported Reuters.

New pork supplier had to comply with Chipotle's standards

Finding a new pork supplier that met its pig-housing standards was not easy. "There are very few farmers who raise animals in a way that meets our requirements—this is especially true when it comes to pigs. In the United States, around 95% of pigs are raised 'conventionally.' Raising pigs in this conventional system can be particularly brutal for the animals. They are raised indoors, in densely crowded conditions with little or no bedding. Most live on slatted metal floors that allow their waste to collect beneath them in liquefied pools. Mother pigs are often kept for months at a time in metal crates so tiny that they cannot turn around," the statement of Chipotle reads.

Chipotle was impressed by Karro pig production methods

Therefore, Chipotle chose to look abroad for a new pork supplier, they were impressed with Malton-based Karro and how the company raised its pigs. Karro Food Group was formed after a MBO of the pig division of the former British branch of Dutch food giant Vion. "The new pork is just getting into restaurants in Florida, and we'll continue to add new markets in the coming months as our supply increases," Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, said in an e-mail. "We expect to have carnitas back in all of our restaurants before the end of the year."

Karro complies to EU rules on antibiotic use

Karro meets most of the strict standards Chipotle uses apart from the issue of antibiotic use. The company demands from its US suppliers only pork from pigs that were never given antibiotics, Karro follows European standards that allow for antibiotics to be administered when necessary to keep an animal healthy. Karro does not give pigs non-therapeutic doses of antibiotics for growth promotion. "As a result, some of the pork we purchase from the UK comes from animals that were treated with antibiotics under veterinary supervision. But this does not mean that antibiotics are present in the meat. All animals treated with antibiotics (both in Europe and the US) must undergo a withdrawal period before they are slaughtered, which means that meat from a pig treated with antibiotics will not contain antibiotic residue, just like meat from an animal that was never given antibiotics," the company said.

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