Chipotle Fires Back Against Non-GMO Lawsuit

Chain That Touts 'Food With Integrity' Calls Suit 'Meritless'

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Chipotle A Farewell to GMOs
Chipotle A Farewell to GMOs Credit: Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill isn't mincing words as it speaks out against a new lawsuit over serving items that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

The class action suit alleges the popular restaurant chain kept serving products with GMOs after advertising that it had reached a goal of only non-GMO ingredients.

The complaint, filed Aug. 28 and promoted in a press release Aug. 31 by law firm Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer, was filed on behalf of all California consumers who bought food products from Chipotle from April 27 until the present. It lists a Colleen Gallagher of Piedmont, Calif., as the plaintiff.

The suit begins with April 27, as that was the day Chipotle announced it had achieved its goal of "moving to only non-GMO ingredients to make all of the food in its U.S. restaurants," including the Chipotle chain as well as ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen. At that time, Chipotle said it was working on new recipes for its tortillas, which it said were the only food items on its menu that include any artificial additives.

The lawsuit alleges that "Chipotle's menu has never been at any time free of GMOs." For example, it calls out that meat served by Chipotle comes from animals which feed on GMOs; that it serves sour cream and cheese from farms that feed animals with GMOs; and even that the Coca-Cola and other soft drinks it serves are made with corn syrup.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said the chain would vigorously defend itself, and called out several issues with the claims made in a prepared statement:

This lawsuit is meritless, and the complaint against Chipotle is filled with inaccuracies. Chipotle has always been honest and transparent with its customers, and the messaging surrounding our use of non-GMO ingredients is no exception. For instance, we have always been clear that our soft drinks contained GMO ingredients, and that the animals from which our meat comes consume GMO feed. But, that does not mean that our meat is GMO, any more than people would be genetically modified if they ate GMO foods. We have not done any television advertising concerning GMOs at all, and the lawsuit blames us for graphics that we did not create or authorize. As we have said, it remains true that all of the ingredients we use to make our food are non-GMO. We will vigorously defend this meritless and unfair claim.

The case, Gallagher vs. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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