Re­moval of GMO from food com­plete: Chipo­tle

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS - BY CANDICE CHOI

Chipo­tle says it has com­pleted phas­ing out ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied in­gre­di­ents from its food, mak­ing it the first na­tional fast- food chain to do so.

The Den­ver- based chain had al­ready been us­ing mostly nonGMO in­gre­di­ents, but was work­ing on mak­ing fi­nal changes to its tor­tillas.

The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion main­tains that GMOs are safe, and most of the coun­try’s corn and soy­bean crops are ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied to have cer­tain traits like re­sis­tance to her­bi­cides and plant dis­eases.

In re­cent years, how­ever, ac­tivists have been call­ing for reg­u­la­tions that re­quire la­bel­ing for foods that con­tain ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied in­gre­di­ents. Many com­pa­nies have re­sponded to such con­cerns; Whole Foods has said all prod­ucts in its stores that con­tain ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied in­gre­di­ents will be la­beled as such by 2018.

Chipo­tle co- CEO Steve Ells has said in the past that the com­pany felt it was best not to use GMOs given the “lack of con­sen­sus” about their ef­fects.

On its web­site Mon­day, Chipo­tle said it was “G- M- Over It.”

Chipo­tle Mex­i­can Grill, which has around 1,800 lo­ca­tions, has en­joyed strong sales growth in part by play­ing up the qual­ity of its in­gre­di­ents and defin­ing it­self as a more whole­some al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional fast- food chains. On a page ex­plain­ing its tran­si­tion away from ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied in­gre­di­ents, for in­stance, it showed an im­age of a burger and cited “fast food” as an ex- am­ple of where en­counter GMOs.

To rid its menu of GMO in­gre­di­ents, Chipo­tle said its sup­pli­ers planted non-GMO corn va­ri­eties for its tor­tillas. It also re­placed soy­bean oil with sun­flower oil to cook its chips and taco shells, and with rice bran oil in other recipes. The new oils are made from crops for which there are no ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied va­ri­eties avail­able for com­mer­cial use, the com­pany noted.

It said the changes did not re­sult in sig­nif­i­cantly higher costs and that it was not rais­ing prices.

Go­ing for­ward, the com­pany said it was work­ing on re­mov­ing ad­di­tives from its tor­tillas as well.

The an­nounce­ment comes af­ter Chipo­tle said in Jan­uary it would stop serv­ing pork in about a third of its restau­rants af­ter find­ing an un­named sup­plier vi­o­lated its

peo­ple might an­i­mal wel­fare stan­dards. The com­pany said it doesn’t ex­pect the pork short­age to be fully re­solved un­til late this year.

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 also 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.

The com­ple­tion of the phase­out was first re­ported by The New York Times and CNN.

AP

This Jan. 28, 2014 file photo shows the door of a Chipo­tle Mex­i­can Grill in Robin­son Town­ship, Penn­syl­va­nia.

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