Carnitas Are Back at Chipotle

The chain's pork shortage is nearly over.

Chipotle carnitas are back. Photograph via Flickr user jronaldlee.

Good news for swine-lovers: Chipotle’s pork shortage has nearly come to an end. The Mexican chain announced they’ve reintroduced carnitas at 90 percent of their restaurants, including Washington area locations.

The limited supply initially came about due to a lack of quality pork on the market. Chipotle’s suspended one of its chief meat suppliers when it was found in violation of the company’s animal welfare standards, and it took nearly seven months to find a suitable replacement: Karro Food, based in the United Kingdom. The company says it expects to have carnitas back on all menus by the end of November.

Though the return of carnitas may be good for customers, it’s not a positive sign for the American pork industry. As the company notes in its press release, many local US suppliers weren’t able to meet both the high demand for meat and welfare standards.

While Chipotle continues to prefer domestic sources for all of its meat, conventionally raised pork in the U.S. does not meet the company’s high standards for animal welfare,” says the release. “Pigs raised conventionally 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 small that they cannot turn around, and copious quantities of antibiotics are used to keep the animals from getting sick in these conditions.”

All in all, tofu sofritas are still looking good.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.