A California woman has filed a court case last week complaining that Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is making deceitful and misrepresentative claims by stating that its menu is free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
In a lawsuit filed on Aug. 28th in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, Colleen Gallagher complained on behalf of all California customers who ate at or bought food from Chipotle on April 27 to this day.
She is represented by Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP, a law firm in San Francisco, which seeks class-action status for the lawsuit.
In April, Chipotle unveiled a multimedia movement describing its menu as being free of GMOs at United States locations. The fast-casual chain, which is based in Denver, had been moving toward that objective for over a couple of years, citing worries about the way GMO organisms are cultivated, and mentioning that GMOs are restricted in many other nations.
“It’s clear that a lot of research is still needed before we can truly understand all the implications of widespread GMO cultivation and consumption,” Chipotle co-CEO Steve Ells said, adding, “While that debate continues, we decided to move to non-GMO ingredients.”
In the court case, which seeks unspecified financial damages, Gallagher says that Chipotle’s assertions are deceitful and misrepresentative because the organization continues to sell meat from animals that eat GMOs, including corn and soy, and that the chain’s cheese and sour cream come from farms that feed dairy animals with GMOs.
Chipotle also serves soft drinks that are made from corn molasses, which is a genetically modified component, the case claims.
“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,” said Laurence King, an advocate for the suggested class. “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.”
Chipotle communications director, Chris Arnold, said the organization does not talk about pending cases as a matter of policy. Though, he added, “We do plan to contest this.”
As part of the April declaration, the company said on its official website that a good percentage of animal feed in the United States is genetically modified, which implies that the dairy products and meat served at Chipotle came from organisms that were given a considerable amount of GMO feed.
“We are working hard on this challenge, and have made substantial progress: for example, the 100-percent grass-fed beef served in many Chipotle restaurants was not fed GMO grain — or any grain, for that matter,” the company announced on its official website.
It further stated, “Many of the beverages sold in our restaurants contain genetically modified ingredients, including those containing high-fructose corn syrup, which is almost always made from GMO corn.”
The court case, however, argues that Chipotle “takes no meaningful steps to clarify consumer misconceptions in its advertisements and its billboards, both in stores and in print, which instead say ‘all’ of the ingredients used in its food products are ‘non-GMO,’” the complaint stated. “A Chipotle meal was, and remains, the very definition of a GMO meal.”