Helen Schwab

Chipotle goes GMO-free

Chipotle’s website is making the point prominent.
Chipotle’s website is making the point prominent. CHIPOTLE

Chipotle says it’s no longer using any GMO (genetically modified organism) ingredients in its U.S. restaurants. (It has some 1,800 restaurants, including locations in Canada and the United Kingdom.)

That means, according to the company’s announcement, it has replaced the soybean oil it used -- to cook chips and taco shells, and in some other recipes -- with sunflower oil and rice bran oil. It suppliers have grown non-GMO corn for its tortillas, the company says. “There is a lot of debate about genetically modified foods,” said CEO Steve Ells in the news release. “It’s clear a lot of research is still needed.”

CNNMoney reported that feed with GMOs is still consumed by the chickens and pigs Chipotle uses. Ells said in an interview he “eventually” would like to insist that its farmers use non-GMO feed as well.

The company says it now will work to get rid of artificial ingredients in its tortillas -- preservatives and dough conditioners. That’s challenging, the company says, and will require a new system, and “it’s too early to say how long” before those hit restaurants.