Just two months after announcing that it would no longer serve foods made with GMO ingredients, Chipotle reveals details about a simplified tortilla it has in the works. According to the New York Times, Chipotle is partnering with the Bread Lab at Washington State University to create a natural tortilla that can be mass produced. Currently Chipotle serves around 800,000 tortillas a day but they are made with a long list of ingredients: "Flour, water, whole-wheat flour, canola oil, salt, baking soda, wheat bran, fumaric acid, calcium propionate, sorbic acid and sodium metabisulfite." Co-CEO Steve Ells wants to reduce the number of ingredients to four.
Ells is hoping the lab can create pliable tortillas on a mass scale that use just whole wheat flour, water, oil, and salt. Ells notes, "We aspire to make artisanal tortillas on an industrial scale." Flour tortillas are typically made with only a handful of ingredients but the kind sold by food distributors in the U.S. have many other components "to make them easier to produce by the millions and to give them a longer shelf life." Ells says the restaurant started working on the tortillas "years ago."
The simpler tortillas — which are "golden brown with a slight nutty taste and a bit of elasticity" — are still in the testing stage. Currently, the Bread Lab produces them in small batches. Chipotle hopes to supply a small group of restaurants with the new tortillas soon and then expand the supply region by region.
A number of large chains are pledging to offer more natural foods. Earlier this month, Subway announced that it will be dropping all artificial ingredients from its offerings by 2017. Shortly before that, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut revealed that they would be swapping out artificial ingredients for real ones by the end of 2015.