Setting a new standard for chain restaurants, burrito behemoth Chipotle has announced that as of today, it will stop serving any genetically modified ingredients (aka genetically modified organisms, or GMOs).
Chipotle became the first chain restaurant, back in 2013, to disclose on its menu the items that included GMOs, the New York Times reports. Since then, a small amount of other restaurants have followed suit. Not surprisingly, Whole Foods also committed to removing all GMOs on its shelves by 2018.
Everyone’s favorite guac destination planned to completely eliminate all GMOs by the end of 2014, the Wall Street Journal reports, but the process took a little longer than expected.
Ensuring all products have zero genetically modified ingredients is a tough, and pricey, process. Basics like sugar, baking powder, canola and soy oils, can all sneakily contain GMOs, making it necessary for a restaurant like Chipotle to meticulously source even the most basic kitchen staples. CNN Money reports that its pork and chicken will still come from animals that eat GMO feed, but Chipotle co-CEO Steve Ells tells them they hope eventually GMO-free feed will become more widespread and the company can make that change too.
Over 90% of the corn and soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. And while Chipotle already had a non-GMO supplier for its corn tortillas, the Times reports, switching out the soy oil it used to fry chips and tortillas was much harder. Different cooking oils have varying smoke points and sometimes drastically different flavors, so the chain has settled on using a few different types for cooking up different food items.
Chipotle already is known for sourcing more responsible, quality ingredients, which has led to shortages in certain menu items before. We may see a slight price increase with these menu modifications, but for those who are skeptical of GMOs and the potential environmental and health impacts they could have (Note: The FDA and some in the science field say certain GMOs are perfectly safe), it will be worth it for the peace of mind.
To celebrate, we suggest you all go enjoy a big ol’ burrito bowl for lunch.