Starting today| Chipotle will stop using all genetically modified ingredients in its food. GMOs| or genetically modified organisms| have been at the forefront of health-food discussions for a while| and this news makes Chipotle the first major restaurant chain to eliminate genetically modified food entirely from its menu.
In a statement| Steve Ells| founder and co-CEO of Chipotle| said| “We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food| and that means cooking with the very best ingredients ¡ª ingredients that are free of additives ¡ª but still serving food that is affordable| convenient| and most importantly delicious. That’s really unusual in fast food| but that’s the quest we are on| and we continue to make progress.”
The totally-GMO-free menu is the result of over two years of work for the company| and this step is just another that Chipotle has taken to prove its environmentally and health-conscious model.
Most recently| you might have noticed a lack of carnitas at your go-to Chipotle location. That’s because the restaurant removed pork from about 600 of its 1|831 locations after a routine inspection found that a major pork supplier was not complying with Chipotle’s standards for responsibly raised meat.
Chipotle addressed the decision on its website| stating| “Chipotle is on a never-ending journey to source the highest quality ingredients we can find. Over the years| as we have learned more about GMOs| we’ve decided that using them in our food doesn’t align with that vision. Chipotle was the first national restaurant company to disclose the GMO ingredients in our food| and now we are the first to cook only with non-GMO ingredients.”
Although the FDA does not require GMO labeling in the US| you’ve likely noticed an increase in the labels in grocery stores as the conversation around the agricultural technology continues (although| as Jimmy Kimmel hilariously proved| many anti-GMO people at a farmers market couldn’t say what the acronym stood for).
According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service| a staggering percentage of corn and soybeans grown in the US is genetically modified ¡ª 94 and 93 percent| respectively. This makes it more difficult for large chain restaurants to find not only GMO-free corn but also meat from animals not given GMO feed. Chipotle used soy oil to fry its chips and tortillas| and now cooks will use sunflower oil to fry them| and a non-GMO rice bran oil will be used in the rice and fajita vegetables (bell peppers and onions). As for the corn| Chipotle was already using GMO-free corn in its salsa| and now the corn tortillas will be made from GMO-free corn flour. According to The New York Times| the restaurant’s “primary tortilla supplier was already producing non-GMO corn flour in small amounts| and it agreed to increase its production.”
“There is a lot of debate about genetically modified foods|” Ells said. “Though many countries have already restricted or banned the use of GMO crops| it’s clear that a lot of research is still needed before we can truly understand all of the implications of widespread GMO cultivation and consumption. While that debate continues| we decided to move to non-GMO ingredients.”
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts