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FILE - In this March 4, 2015, file photo, an order of McDonald's Chicken McNuggets is displayed for a photo in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. McDonald’s had signaled changes were in store in late 2014, and the company said it was evaluating the cooking procedures and ingredients for its core menu items. McDonald's said it is testing Chicken McNuggets made without artificial additives and fresh beef instead of frozen beef for some burgers. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

Chipotle's founder mocked McDonald's claims of a 'clean' McNugget


Chipotle founder Steve Ells doesn't buy McDonald's claims that it has any "clean" food.

After announcing on Tuesday that Chipotle was the first and only national chain with no added colors, flavors or preservatives on the menu, Ells blasted McDonald's for claiming it was similarly additive-free.

He argued that McDonald's and other chains ditched "artificial flavors" for "natural flavors," but the latter are still created in a lab. The difference is, they use extracts from natural ingredients rather than chemicals.

It's not something you buy at the farmer's market. 'Oh, yes, where's the natural flavor?'
Steve Ells, Chipotle founder and CEO

On McDonald's website, the ingredients for the new Chicken McNuggets list "natural flavors" as the last ingredient.

Ells also criticized Panera, which said in January it had completed its mission for totally "clean" food. Ells said Panera still uses natural flavors. 

Panera told Business Insider that it was trying to eliminate natural flavors, but since its menu was more extensive than Chipotle's, the process would take time.

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