Some days, I feel exhausted when it comes to Chipotle Mexican Grill and their lack of integrity in marketing and lack of support for modern family farming and ranching. I’ve written several times about the burrito chain, summarized a conversation I had where their marketing department questioned the integrity of family farmers and highlighted the misperceptions they fuel about modern agriculture. Every time I turn around, the company is making another stab at our food supply that contradicts my experience working with farmers and ranchers. This time, a group supporting science is challenging the company to stick to its marketing and not lack integrity as it has in the past.
Chipotle made quite a splash earlier in the year with by announcing the removal of food items from their menu that contain Genetically Modified ingredients. Many mainstream media outlets were not buying it and pointed out their lack of scientific backing when questioning the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization‘s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) identified glyphosate (active ingredient in the herbicide, RoundUp) as a class 2A probably carcinogenic. IARC has a history of always identifying substances as carcinogenic, (Actually, I’m pretty sure they’ve classified everything on earth as carcinogenic) usually based observational studies and not experimental design. By the way, the science doesn’t support the decision on glyphosate as carcinogenic.
With that announcement, Chipotle released the following statement, “The World Health Organization designated Glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans.’ The use of glyphosate is extremely widespread. More than 9% of the landmass of the continental United States is planted with crops genetically modified for glyphosate resistance. Given the concerns surrounding these types of GMOs and the chemicals associated with them, we felt it was particularly important to seek out non-GMO ingredients when possible.”
This past week, IARC released similar judgements on red and processed meats as cancerous. That information has been similarly lacking of scientific backing. Learn more about what IARC said about beef and cancer.
Will Chipotle make similar moves to remove beef and pork from their menus to avoid the cancerous perceptions?
I’d certainly hate to see the loss of beef and pork sales by removing the menu items. On the other hand, based on the overall reaction to IARC’s announcement on red meat, I doubt many people will stop consuming beef and pork. I’d rather those customers of our’s to purchase their protein from a company who has more integrity in marketing and shows more respect for family farming and ranching.
I’m not the only one asking. A petition on Change.org showed up just a few days ago, asking Chipotle’s Steve Ells to remove these items from his menus based on IARC’s assessment of cancer risk.
The petition states: “Just as GMOs were removed from most of their menu items because glyphosate is a class 2A carcinogen, pork and beef now need to be removed as well. Given the concerns surrounding red meat, and the herbicide tolerant mutagenic sun flowers used to cook it in, we feel it is particularly important to seek out alternative ingredients.”
I won’t be signing the petition. However, I do continue asking Chipotle to stop the fear mongering, stop pandering to food trends that make consumers question the integrity of our family farmers and ranchers, and support the safe food system we have in this country.
Will Chipotle stick to its marketing and make the same judgement on red meats as it did GMO ingredients and glyphosate?
In case you were wondering about red meat and cancer after IARC’s announcement, Men’s Health sums it up well – “this changes nothing.” I’m not concerned about a risk of cancer and will continue to consumer beef and pork on a regular basis as part of my healthy diet and as a major source of protein to fuel my running habit.
As an update, WHO clarified statements on red meat and cancer late in the week. Enjoy your bacon in moderation as part of a healthy diet.