Chipotle is getting healthier, in a sense. The burrito-slinging Mexican grill announced yesterday that it will no longer serve genetically modified ingredients. It’s a bold move from a national chain restaurant, considering that nearly 80 percent of food in the U.S. has genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
According to an April 27 article from Yahoo! Health, GMOs define both plants and animals whose genetic material has been engineered to, say, become more immune to disease or spoilage. From cereal on down to salad dressing, a number of products are made from genetically altered plants, making GMOs hard to get rid of. At the same time, the Food and Drug Administration has deemed genetically modified food as safe as regular ol’ food, but anti-GMO eaters are skeptical.
It’s this skepticism that inspired Chipotle to cut out GMOs altogether. Steve Ells, the restaurant’s CEO and founder, told Yahoo! Health that, “There is a lot of debate about genetically modified foods. Though many countries have already restricted or banned the use of GMO crops, it’s clear that a lot of research is still needed before we can truly understand all of the implications of widespread GMO cultivation and consumption. While that debate continues, we decided to move to non-GMO ingredients.”
And, although the company is working hard to make sure all the meat and dairy products it buys are GMO-free, one of the major issues comes from, well, other food. In an online statement, Chipotle notes that most animal feed in the U.S. is genetically modified, which means that the some of the chicken, beef, pork or cheese served at the restaurant will have traces of GMOs. Still, when it comes to changing this, Chipotle seems up for the challenge.
The restaurant has made some major strides in the past decade. In 1993, the first Chipotle was opened in Denver. In 1998, Chipotle restaurants began opening across state lines and McDonalds became a primary investor. More recently, the company has expanded internationally, opening stores in London, Paris, Germany and Toronto, writes Forbes.
With 1,800 locations, Chipotle’s demand for non-GMO ingredients will be high. Ells assured the New York Times that supplies will not run out, saying that the company is working with farmers to grow enough crops. Such changes may cause Chipotle’s menu prices to rise this year but, to some, eating a less frankensteined meal is worth the price. Increased profits, of course, is where Chipotle will really reap what it sows.