Following the company’s April announcement that it would be eliminating all GMO products from its menu, Chipotle is now being slapped with a lawsuit that claims the chain may have been “misleading consumers.”
Earlier this week, a law firm filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court claiming that the fast-casual chain’s marketing is “misleading and deceptive” because it still sells a substantial amount of foods made with GMOs. Chipotle’s meat, cheese, and sour cream is made from animals fed with GMO soy and corn, the complaint claims, and the soft drinks it serves are made with corn syrup made from GMO corn. Filed in the Northern District of California, the lawsuit is on behalf of California consumers who have purchased food from Chipotle since the company made its official announcement, with Kaplan, Fox, and Kilsheimer representing.
“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,” says Attorney Laurence D. King from the firm. “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 has yet to make a comment on the lawsuit, with the company’s Communications Director Chris Arnold telling Fortune Magazine, “Generally speaking, we do not discuss details of pending legal action, though we do plan to contest this.”
The company, however, has made efforts to clarify that not ALL of its menu items can currently be made GMO-free at this time. At the time of Chipotle’s announcement, the chain posted the following disclaimer on its non-GMO website.
“The meat and dairy products we buy come from animals that are not genetically modified. But it is important to note that most animal feed in the U.S. is genetically modified, which means that the meat and dairy served at Chipotle are likely to come from animals given at least some GMO feed,” the company stipulated. “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.”
Despite this clarification, the class-action lawsuit still claims that Chipotle advertisements on the matter were distinctly misleading. “Now, all of our food is non-GMO,” says one billboard for the company, and one sign displayed in the company’s restaurants says, “Only non-GMO ingredients.”
To be clear, there is no evidence to the Food and Drug Administration’s knowledge that GMOs are not 100% safe. Most of the country's big crops like corn and soybean crops are genetically modified to resist common issues such as herbicidal damage and plant diseases.