After two years of intense efforts, Chipotle can now proudly assure its customers that it only sells non-GMO foods. The chain hopes to change everything about the way people see fast food and serving only foods free of genetically engineered ingredients is one of the first steps towards that dream.
According to Co-CEO and Chipotle founder, Steve Ells, the concept of fast food has been misunderstood for far too long. Fast serving times shouldn’t be enough to label the food low-quality and imply that cheap, processed ingredients were used to make it.
The 1,831-restaurant chain has been working on the project for several years. In 2013, it began by clearly indicating which products contained GMO ingredients. Since then, it has been slowly replacing GMO-corn, soybeans or other crops with unaltered ingredients and the transition, though long, is finally complete.
Introducing non-GMO ingredients isn’t easy at all, Chipotle CEO Steve Ells explains, especially since the crops had to be planted and harvested beforehand. Apart from eliminating GMO-corn altogether, the fast food chain has now switched from soybean oil to sunflower oil (not genetically altered, of course) and rice bran oil.
Its pork and chicken meat still stems from animals consuming GMO-feed, but the restaurant’s beef comes from pasture-raised cattle and perhaps in the future, Chipotle will take these changes even further.
Genetically modified organisms represent a longstanding debate subject among foodies. While supporters claim that such foods are safe, critics insist that pesticide amounts found in such crops are health-threatening.
Up to 80 percent of the food consumed in the United States has been genetically modified, USDA statistics show. There is a massive body of evidence suggesting that genetically modified foods are safe for consumption and Chipotle hasn’t based its decision on any alleged danger connected to GMO’s.
“They say these ingredients are safe, but I think we all know we’d rather have food that doesn’t contain them,” Mr. Ells noted.
Several other companies have also jumped the wagon, following a trend that only seems to be growing. Consumers have shifted towards non-GMO products and Whole Food Stores are expected to completely eliminate such products by 2018.
Other legacy fast-food chains, McDonald’s included, have been experiencing sales drops and amid such a difficult market, Chipotle is one of the unexpected success stories. With an unparalleled stock increase (350%) and a doubling of its restaurant number (from 976 to 1,831), it’s safe to say that Chipotle is on the right track. Whether other fast-food chains will also begin altering their ingredient lists remains to be seen.
Image Source: robynobrien.com
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