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The HSUS Urges Consumers to See Through Front Groups, Corporate Attacks on the Public Interest

Smear Campaign Against Chipotle Undoubtedly Financed by Factory Farming Interests

The Humane Society of the United States is calling out the latest smear campaign by the widely discredited Rick Berman – this one against the fast-serve and fast-growing restaurant chain Chipotle.

Berman’s front groups – all operating from his Washington PR shop and in this case masquerading under the made-up name of the Center for Consumer Freedom – have attacked dozens of non-profit organizations, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the American Medical Association, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, and The HSUS, on behalf of corporate clients seeking to stymie more humane and sensible public policies. 

Berman, who has made millions as a public-relations mercenary, has opened up a new line of attack in going after Chipotle – a for-profit corporation known for its commitment to family farming, animal welfare and public health. Berman and CCF have refused to say who is funding this campaign, but they almost certainly are factory farming interests.

“Rick Berman has made a career out of attacking non-profits seeking to stop animal cruelty, food adulteration, cancer-causing products in foods and other goods, and drunk driving,” said HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle. “Now he’s attacking a multi-billion-dollar company serving tens of millions of consumers because it chooses not to sell meat from animals jammed into cages or loaded up with antibiotics. So much for his defense of the free market.”

Chipotle’s meteoric rise has been fueled by its progressive animal welfare policies. Earlier this year, Chipotle pulled carnitas from a third of its outlets rather than serve pork produced by companies not complying with the company’s animal welfare standards.

Despite the efforts of CCF to defend inhumane factory farming practices, America’s leading food brands are moving away from the extreme confinement of farm animals. Earlier this week, McDonald’s announced plans to go completely cage-free in its U.S. and Canadian egg supply chains. It joins Walmart, Aramark and nearly 100 other major food companies in announcing strong new animal welfare policies to meet consumer demand for humane treatment in their supply chains. 

“The companies that Berman once considered to be his core financers are the same ones that are taking leadership positions on animal welfare policies,” added Pacelle. “This guy has zero chance of hurting Chipotle. In fact, it’s a tremendous opportunity for the company to highlight its very good and important policies and win even more customers.”

Media Contact: Anna West: 240-751-2669; awest@humanesociety.org

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