The brand name “Chipotle” once conjured up images of fresh, uncomplicated food and healthy initiatives. But more recently, after several food-poisoning scares, it’s brought to mind a series of far less appetizing images.
With its once-pristine reputation tarnished and sales dropping, it’s no surprise that the fast food chain has been quietly working to revamp its image.
- Pea Tortilla with Mint and Yogurt
- Black Bean Soup with Crispy Tortillas
- Crispy Corn Tortillas with Chicken and Cheddar
And all that hard work finally came to fruition Tuesday, when the chain’s new mission to sell completely preservative-free food was achieved. The brand’s U.S. stores now boast a menu containing just 51 total ingredients, including organic produce, hormone-free meat, and no GMOs.
According to a newly-published diagram on the brand’s website, the flour tortilla, crispy corn tortilla, soft corn tortilla, and tortilla chips have all undergone extensive rebranding. The flour tortillas, which used to contain sodium acid pyrophosphate, calcium propionate, and distilled monoglycerides, and a number of other preservatives, now contain just 5 ingredients: wheat flour, water, canola oil, yeast, and salt. The burrito wrappers, too, have undergone a makeover, and no longer contain dough conditioners and preservatives.
Even the asterisk-marked addendum at the bottom of the page, which is normally used to hide any less-than-flattering extra information, simply reads: “*Except for lemon and lime juices, which can be used as preservatives, though Chipotle uses them only for taste.”
Due to their new, preservative-free ingredient list, the new tortillas, which have been tested across the U.S. since January, will have to be stored in coolers instead of at room temperature. Additionally, supply chains and entire bakery ventilation systems had to be thoroughly revamped in order to accommodate the new recipes. And the tortilla packaging will be injected with nitrogen from now on to ensure there’s very little oxygen circulating around, since oxygen fosters the growth of mold.
“If you care for your ingredients properly, package them nicely and keep them at the right temperature, you don’t need to have these preservatives,” Steve Ells, Chipotle founder and chief executive, told the Wall Street Journal.
Now, we'll just have to see if enough people are brave enough to come back to Chipotle to find out how different those new tortillas really are.