WASHINGTON (BUSINESS WIRE) -- In a presentation made at a Senate briefing in support of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) founder, chairman and co-CEO Steve Ells argued that restaurant companies can be successful while eschewing harsh agricultural practices, including the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock farming.
Ells presentation drew on his own experiences and Chipotle's food supply practices that have the company looking for more sustainable sources for all of the ingredients it uses. Ells calls this philosophy "Food with Integrity" and it is how Chipotle is changing the way people think about and eat fast food. Chipotle began this quest more than 10 years ago after Ells decided to start serving naturally raised pork (from pigs raised on open pasture or in deeply bedded barns, without the use of antibiotics or added hormones) in all Chipotle restaurants.
"After making that initial decision, I had an epiphany," Ells said in his remarks. "If you want to serve the best tasting food you can, it's important to understand how animals are raised and how vegetables are grown, as these variables impact the taste of the food."
Since then, Chipotle has made considerable progress sourcing ingredients from more sustainable sources. Today, it serves more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant company, including all of its pork, all of its chicken and more than 60 percent of its beef. It is also the only national restaurant company with significant commitments to local and organic produce, and was the first national restaurant company to serve dairy (cheese and sour cream) made with milk from cows that are not treated with the synthetic hormone rBGH.
"While it costs more to serve food made from these better ingredients, we made the decision early on that we would fight hard to find efficiencies in other areas of our business, so we could afford to buy food made from sustainable sources, without charging premium prices to our customers," said Ells.
Incurring higher food costs has not hurt Chipotle's success. In fact, the Wall Street Journal observed that Chipotle "has arguable become the most successful fast-food chain in recent years by rejecting almost every major technique on which the industry was built."
"Passage of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act will expedite the transition to a better meat supply, and hopefully, serve as a catalyst for other companies to review their food supply practices just as we have chosen to do on our own," said Ells. "Perhaps then, other companies will find out what we have found: That you can work to make a better food chain, and still run a successful business."
PAMTA was introduced in March 2009 and proposes to amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to preserve the effectiveness of medically important antibiotics used in the treatment of human and animal diseases by banning sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals.
Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO, started Chipotle with the idea that food served fast did not have to be a typical fast food experience. Today, Chipotle continues to offer 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 using fresh ingredients, but ingredients that are sustainably grown and naturally raised with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food. Chipotle opened its first restaurant in 1993 and currently operates nearly 1,000 restaurants.
SOURCE: Chipotle Mexican Grill