The big news about Chipotle is that they have removed GMO foods from their menu reports USA Today Monday. Chiptle has become the first national restaurant chain to use only non-GMO ingredients. Co-CEO Steve Ells said the Denver-based chain has hit the goal not only at Chipotle Mexican Grills but also at the company’s ShopHouse Southeast Asia Kitchen locations. “There is a lot of debate about genetically modified foods,” said Ells, in a statement. “Though many countries have already restricted or banned the use of GMO crops, it’s clear that a lot of research is still needed. … While that debate continues, we decided to move on non-GMO ingredients.”
Sunday the New York Times reported that in 2013, Chipotle was the first restaurant chain to indicate which items contained genetically modified organisms. “This is another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” said Steve Ells, founder and co-chief executive of Chipotle. “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.”
While this is great news, the person who is really responsible for this change is not getting the proper credit. Vani Hari, better known as the Food Babe, back in 2012 started questioning Chipotle about the ingredients in certain products. Initially Chipotle refused to give any information.
“What I found was startling,” Hari says. “Most of their food was contaminated with genetically modified cooking oil, corn oil, and they were using genetically modified ingredients in their tortillas. Even in the black beans there was GMO soybean oil. You couldn’t even order vegetarian and avoid it. It was really unfortunate. Then, when I saw their flour tortillas’ package, it said that they use trans-fat. That’s crazy.”
Undaunted, Food Babe started a petition. In response to the petition Chipotle responded and agreed to release ingredients online. In March 2013, Food Babe and her readers received what they had been requesting for months: a list of the ingredients in every Chipotle dish.
Monday Vox went on a rant about how GMO crops currently on the market are just as safe to eat as conventional crops. However there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They went on to state that people who eat at Chipotle will gain no health benefits whatsoever from this change. Vox went on to whine that unfortunately, there’s also a loud contingent of activists who have managed to spread total nonsense about the health dangers of eating GMOs, like the ever-popular “Food Babe.” They also expressed displeasure that the “pseudo-scientific” message appears to be catching on.
According to Midco Monday Chipotle reports that the changes would not result in significantly higher costs and that it was not raising prices. Chipotle will not be completely GMO free, however. Chipotle will still serve meat from animals that are given GMO feed; animals cannot be given GMO feed for meat to be considered organic. The company still serves Coca-Cola fountain drinks, which are made with high-fructose corn syrup. But this past summer, it started testing a root beer that is organically sweetened in Denver. That test is ongoing, said Chris Arnold, a company spokesman.
Love her or hate her, Food Babe is a force to be reckoned with. Without her, it is doubtful that Chipotle would have made the changes but many are glad they did. With more and more people looking for healthy places to eat, Chipotle will be leading the pack. It should be great for their bottom line at the end of the year. If so, they owe Food Babe.