Starting with Monday more than 1.800 Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants will no longer use GMOs (genetically modified organisms). In fact Chipotle was the first restaurant chain which, in 2013, mentioned what food items contained genetically modified ingredients. Now a growing number of restaurants have started to label their menus.
Steve Ells, co-chief executive and founder of Chipotle, said this is a step the company makes in order to achieve their ideal of changing how people perceive fast food. Ells remarked that simply because the food is served fast it does not necessarily mean that it is made with artificial flavors and colors, with cheap raw ingredients and it does not mean it is highly processed with fillers and preservatives.
It is not easy to make this type of change. The chain has worked for years to achieve this since time was needed in order to wait for GMO-free crops to grown and be harvested. Ells remarked:
“Chipotle is really showing that there’s a better way to do fast food. They say these ingredients are safe, but I think we all know we’d rather have food that doesn’t contain them.”
This move makes Chipotle the first national fast food chain which has went so far in withdrawing genetically altered ingredients from its foods. Some of the measures taken are the following: all their restaurants use non-GMO corn, the soybean oil used so far for cooking has been replaced with GMO-free rice bran oil and sunflower oil and although the chicken and pork still come from animals which are fed with GMO foods, the beef is from pasture-raised cattle.
Grocers are trying to offer more GMO-free products as well. The Whole Foods shelves will no longer contain genetically altered ingredients by 2018. Big food companies are also removing GMO foods or are starting to label their products so customers will know which products contain GMOs or not. Walmart even took measures for expanding its organic food selection.
The increased demand for non-altered products has made them more expensive and difficult to obtain especially since businesses need them in big amounts. Late July Snacks is a company which makes snacks such as crackers and chips using organic ingredients. CEO and founder of Late July Snacks, Nicole Bernard Dawes, explained that non-GMO chains need a non-altered ingredient which covers only 1% of the formula. In case there is a supply shortage in that particular ingredient the company can no longer sell the product.