Americans concerned with eating genetically modified organisms, a.k.a G.M.O.s, can now grab a fast burrito without fear. Chipotle CEO Steve Ells announced today that the company will be the first fast food chain to go completely G.M.O. free. “Using ingredients that are free of additives…is really unusual in fast food, but that’s the quest we are on, and we continue to make progress,” said Ells.
Cutting out G.M.O.s poses a challenge for most large chains because altered foods make up so much of what we eat. The government estimates that as much as 80 percent of the food we eat in the United States is genetically modified and that number goes even higher for individual crops. According to the USDA, 94 percent of corn is genetically modified. It is worth noting that we say “estimates” here because the United States remains one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t require food producers to disclose whether they have used G.M.O.s.
Many of Chipotle’s ingredients were already G.M.O.-free, but items like corn for tortillas and soybean oil for frying chips were not. So the company got its corn suppliers to plant non-GMO crops specifically for them and Chipotle kitchens replaced their soybean oil with sunflower or rice bran oil.
According to the New York Times this could mean a slight rise in Chipotle prices over the next year, although Ells any price increase would be minimal. All that’s left now is to get those carnitas back online later this year.