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Chipotle has banished preservatives from its tortillas as the US burrito chain that is in the midst of a rebound from a food-safety scare looks to bolster its appeal among ingredient-conscious diners.

The Denver-based chain said it is now the only national restaurant brand with no added colours, flavours or preservatives in any of its ingredients, heightening the claims of its already popular ad campaign that emphasises quality ingredients.

The Mexican-food inspired chain has been recovering from a 2015 food-safety debacle that sparked a deep decline in sales and sent its shares tumbling from all-time highs.

The roll out of better ingredients through its “food with integrity” mission should enhance the appeal of Chipotle’s brand over time, according to analysts at Baird Equity Research. “Using such products results in better-tasting food and leverages a concept that is highly popular with consumers,” wrote David Tarantino, a senior research analyst.

To drive sales in 2017 and beyond, Mr Tarantino said marketing and menu innovations would play a key role, especially in the group’s aim to win back customers.

Chipotle disclosed a 4.8 per cent fall in same-store sales in the fourth quarter, representing a recovery from the 21.9 per cent drop in the previous three-month period. The group said in February that it expects the key sales metric to increase in the “high-single digits” this year.

Shares in Chipotle, which are down 9.9 per cent over the past 12 months, gained 3.1 per cent on Tuesday to $427.74. They peaked at $758.61 in August 2015.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

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