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Chipotle touts it's preservative free after tortilla recipe revamp

Chipotle Mexican Grill's quest is over.

The burrito chain, which has been ditching all artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from its menu for years, is finally free of all additives, thanks to a revamp of its tortillas.

Chipotle, which uses 51 ingredients to make all the items its sells, has long labored over its commercially produced tortillas, which contained ingredients like dough conditioners and preservatives. Now its tortillas have between two and five ingredients — flour, water, canola oil, salt and yeast for flour tortillas and corn masa flour and water for its corn tortillas.

"I've been on a quest for a better tasting tortilla for years, and we finally achieved a tortilla made the way you would make them at home, and they are simply delicious," Steve Ells, CEO of Chipotle said in a statement Tuesday. "Ultimately, all of the decisions we make about the ingredients we use are about making the very best tasting food we can."

The restaurant said that the only preservatives on its menu are the lemon and lime juices that it uses, which could be used as preservatives, but are used just for taste. It also said that its beverages are not included in its no added colors, flavors or preservatives claim.

Consumers have been demanding healthier food options and many restaurant chains have responded by updating their menus and revamping ingredients. These changes have run the gamut from antibiotic-free chicken items from chains like McDonald's and Carl's Jr. to Panera stripping away all artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and colors from its in-store menu items and grocery store products.

However, each chain seems to have its own way of defining an "all natural" or "clean" menu. For Chipotle, it means no industrial additives of any kind, artificial or natural.

Chipotle's spokesman Chris Arnold told CNBC that many companies, including Panera, say they have removed artificial additives and preservatives, only to replace them with "natural" alternatives, which are made in a lab. Arnold said that natural beef flavor, for example, is synthesized from plants.

Panera wasn't immediately available to comment.

Chipotle is still trying to revive sales after a string of high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks despite marketing and promotional efforts. However, shares of the company were up 1.6 percent in intraday trading on Tuesday and have grown more than 11 percent year to date.