Chipotle Mexican Grill, the popular Tex-Mex food chain that claimed last April it would be removing genetically modified ingredients from its menu, is now facing a class action lawsuit over those claims. The lawsuit alleges that the chain’s G-M-Over It campaign is misleading consumers into thinking the menu is free of genetically modified ingredients when in fact, according to the lawsuit, “the opposite was true.”
According to the complaint, “Chipotle’s menu has never been at any time free of GMOs. Among other things, Chipotle serves meat products that come from animals which feed on GMOs, including corn and soy. Chipotle’s tacos and burritos are also usually served with sour cream and cheese from dairy farms that feed animals with GMOs. And, Chipotle also sells Coca-Cola and other soft drinks that are made with corn-syrup—a GMO.”
Further, the plaintiffs contend that Chipotle hasn’t taken meaningful steps to clarify these misconceptions to consumers. Though at the bottom of its G-M-Over It page, the company does state that because most animal feed in the U.S. is genetically modified, “the meat and dairy served at Chipotle is likely to come from animals given at least some GMO feed,” according to NPR's The Salt. It also states that many of the beverages sold contain high fructose corn syrup, which is a genetically modified ingredient. However, the lawsuit states that certain ads claim that the entire menu is GMO-free.
"Consumers today are very concerned about what they eat, and restaurants know that consumers place a premium on food that is considered to be healthy or natural," Laurence D. King, an attorney for the proposed class said in a statement. "As a result, Chipotle's advertising in its stores should have accurately informed customers about the source and quality of its ingredients and should not mislead consumers that they are serving food without GMOs when in fact they are."
In response, Chipotle has strongly refuted claims that its been deceptive in its GMO-free campaign, telling NPR’s The Salt, that the company has been “honest and transparent with its customers" and "didn't raise prices because of our move to non-GMO ingredients.”
The lawsuit, Gallagher v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, is currently pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
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