In a first for the fast food and chain restaurant industry, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it was halting the use of foods that have been genetically modified. Chipotle's stance against GMO ingredients was first reported by the New York Times. A release confirms that as of today, nothing served at the chain's nearly 2,000 locations contains genetically altered foods. According to the AP, Chipotle's menu was already almost completely non-GMO except for one tortilla.
Steve Ells, founder and co-chief executive of Chipotle told the Times: "This is another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food. 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."
Chipotle's menu was already almost completely non-GMO except for one tortilla.
In 2013, Chipotle became the first chain to label all GMO foods it served, and back then expressed a desire to eventually eliminate GMO foods altogether. As the AP notes, most of the corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. and across the world are genetically modified. The FDA has repeatedly stated that GMO foods are safe for consumption.
Still, genetically modified foods don't sit well with consumers, and many retailers and brands have come out against the use of GMO ingredients. And even while nutritionists, agricultural experts, and groups fighting world hunger continue to argue for and against GMOs, a very popular American fast food chain just gave the non-GMO camp a major win. Will other chains follow suit?
This isn't the first time Chipotle has put the health concerns of its clients over its bank account. Back in 1999, it was the first chain to announce it would not serve meat treated with antibiotics. Supplier shortages caused Chipotle to reconsider its antibiotic-free rules for suppliers for a short time, but not its stance on sustainability.
Over the years, Chipotle has stood firm in its — admittedly expensive, operationally challenging — resolve to serve only sustainably-raised meat. In January, the chain stopped serving pork carnitas at many of its locations because a supplier failed to meet a standard specified by the chain. Though fans are still waiting for pork to return to Chipotle's menu, the chain maintains that it is waiting until it finds a supplier willing to meet its sustainability standards.