Food with Integrity

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Posted: March 23, 2015, 2:41 p.m.
by Esther Workman.

Chipotle’s decision to remove pulled pork from one-third of its restaurants in early January taught the PR industry a thing or two about corporate social responsibility.

Chipotle took the pulled pork out of more than 600 locations when the company learned one of its suppliers did not comply with Chipotle’s standards on animal welfare and food sustainability. The pork was used in Chipotle’s carnitas, one of the main ingredients in burritos, bowls and tacos.

You might be thinking, why should we as PR professionals care about Chipotle’s pulled pork shortage?

4640845729_5ecca8d89a_oAccording to Takepart.com, Chipotle was the first restaurant chain to voluntarily label all genetically modified ingredients. The company publicly condemned open-carry gun activists in its restaurants, and proudly flew the rainbow flag in opposition to Chick-fil-A’s rally against same sex marriage.

Chipotle has long distinguished itself as a guardian of ethics, and this decision was no exception.

When Chipotle decided to take pulled pork off the menu, it sacrificed profits for the sake of company integrity. Chipotle kept its promise to serve customers “ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers.”

There is so much talk in our industry about crisis communication and how to cover up mistakes before any publics are aware of what has happened; but instead of hiding the truth, Chipotle was transparent and honest in a way that establishes more trust.

Chipotle also never released the name of the supplier with which it terminated business. The company took all of the blame on itself and apologized for the mistake.

As a PR student and frequent consumer of a burrito bowl, it is refreshing to hear stories about companies like Chipotle that put company values ahead of revenue.

15833486513_166ee351e8_oChipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold said in an interview, “The commitment we have made is to constant improvement, and we are always working to find better, more sustainable sources for all of the ingredients we use.”

Now that’s what I call Food with Integrity.

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