Class Action Suit Against Chipotle Says its GM-Free Claims are False
An attack by Big Ag, or sincere public concern?
Chipotle’s campaign launched in April of this year was a breath of fresh air for many busy people who were looking for non-GM fast food that was both fresh, organic, non-GMO, and often locally-sourced. The company called it ‘food with integrity – G-M-Over it,’ but it seems some consumers aren’t convinced that the chain’s non-GMO intentions were brought to fruition.
A class-action suit is at stake for Chipotle, filed in California. The plaintiff states, “Chipotle serves meat products that come from animals which feed on GMOs, including corn and soy.” The suit additionally alleges that the chain’s sour cream and cheese — come from dairy farms that feed animals GMO feed, and even its soft drinks are made with GMO sweetener.
Stated from the legal brief:
“…But as Chipotle told consumers it was “G-M-Over it,” the opposite was true. In fact, 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.
While Chipotle knows that its menu contains ingredients with GMOs, it takes no meaningful steps to clarify consumer misconceptions in its advertisements and on its billboards, both in stores and in print, which instead say “all” of the ingredients used in its Food Products are “non-GMO”. A “Chipotle meal was, and remains, the very definition of a GMO meal….”2
6. As a result of Chipotle’s conduct, customers like Plaintiff Gallagher have been deceived into buying Chipotle’s food, or paying more for Chipotle products than they would have otherwise paid. Accordingly, Plaintiff brings a proposed class action against Chipotle arising from Chipotle’s deceptive conduct that seeks damages, restitution and/or disgorgement of Chipotle’s profits, injunctive and other equitable relief.”
Though Chipotle has tried to source much of its produce from non-GMO sources, it does say on the bottom of one of its web pages that:
“Many of the beverages sold in our restaurants contain genetically modified ingredients, including those containing corn syrup, which is almost always made from GMO corn.”
At least Chipotle is honest about some of their food ingredients, which is more than we can say for other big fast food chains – however, is this enough?
The lawsuit claims that Chipotle customers have been duped, noting that the establishment hasn’t taken any “meaningful steps to clarify consumer misconceptions” in any of its marketing, which the attorneys for the plaintiff say constitutes violation of the California False Advertising Law.
Is this lawsuit an attempt by Big Ag to silence a competitor who is making strides toward providing non-GM, non-industrialized foods to people, or a sincere attempt by those very same consumers to be completely free of GM products? The lawsuit correctly points out that Chipotle has enjoyed a “100+ point jump in its stock price on the New York Stock Exchange in the four months since its public announcement.”
The determination is up to you to make.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.