By Carina Calderón and Sukhmani Kaur
On April 27, Chipotle Mexican Grill became the first national restaurant chain to announce the removal of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) found in many items on its menu. Working to remove GMOs since 2013, the food franchise has completed its plan of action and is dedicated to ensuring that its ingredients are natural and of the highest quality.
“Just because food is served fast doesn’t mean it has to be made with cheap raw ingredients, highly processed with preservatives and fillers and stabilizers and artificial colors and flavors,” Steve Ells, founder and co-executive of Chipotle, said.
The company’s advocacy against GMOs stems from three major facts. First, little knowledge is known about the long term effects of GMOs. Second, Chipotle believes that the growth of GMO crops have harmful side-effects on the environment due to pesticide protection resulting in the demise of valuable insects as well as the creation of resistant weeds.
Lastly, the chain wants its restaurants to be regarded with the highest standard of food which can only be achieved with the promise of serving natural and healthy foods.
However, these vows are easier said than done, and the journey to non-GMO ingredients was not all smooth sailing.
During the transition, Chipotle faced shortages in its supply of pork for the carnitas. This shortage resulted in the possibility that 1,800 restaurants would have a small supply that would not last until fall.
Although the company is devoted to only serving natural food ingredients, few GMOs and preservatives remain in beverages, the feed consumed by animals, and flour tortillas. The restaurant’s soft drinks continue to contain GMO filled sweeteners. However, Chipotle is testing the alternatives, notably sugarcane, in Denver, Colorado.
Nonetheless, Ells ensures that this problem will not continue with the shipment of non-GMO ingredients due to the greater precautions under way to secure that the demand for supplies are met.
Since the pledge to end GMOs in 2013, Chipotle labeled the foods that contained a high concentration of GMOs; however, its main issues revolved around the flour tortillas and the soybean oil used for cooking.
Chipotle shifted to a non-GMO menu, guaranteeing that their ingredients are grown and raised locally.
Additionally, the restaurant swears that it obtains meat from free-to-roam animals that are treated humanely and that its ingredients, such as avocadoes and brown rice, are grown organically.