Chipotle’s recent announcement that their menu ingredients were GMO-free had many of us blissfully stuffing our faces with calorie-packed, food coma-inducing burritos thinking they were at least “healthy” in some misguided variation of the word.
It turns out that Chipotle may have lied to us and we’ve been stuffing ourselves with calorie-packed, food coma-inducing burritos that do, in fact, have genetically modified ingredients.
Law firm Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer filed a federal class action lawsuit this week on behalf of all customers of the fast casual chain from April 27 (the day Chipotle told everyone they were “G-M-Over it”) to now, alleging that Chipotle has been “misleading” customers because some menu items still contain GMOs.
A plaintiff in the suit, Colleen Gallagher of Piedmont, California, told Reuters:
“As Chipotle told consumers it was ‘G-M-Over it,’ the opposite was true, In fact, Chipotle’s menu as never been at any time free of GMOs.”
Gallagher also alleges that Chipotle violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act by falsely labeling their food and deceiving customers in paying more for their food.
Chipotle’s meat and dairy products allegedly come from animals that eat GMO feed, and their fountain drinks contain corn syrup, a genetically modified ingredient.
Chipotle’s website touts their allegedly GMO-free ingredients by specifically mentioning the quality of their beef:
“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.”
However, that same page also features a disclaimer which Gallagher argues many people don’t actually see. The disclaimers say 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” and that “many of the beverages sold in our restaurants contain genetically modified ingredients.”
Chris Arnold, a communications director at Chipotle, told Fortune via email that the lawsuit claims were “meritless” and “filled with inaccuracies.” He continued:
“Chipotle has always been honest and transparent with its customers, and the messaging surrounding our use of non-GMO ingredients is no exception.”
Arnold also explained that just because the beef they serve is fed with feed that contains GMOs, “that does not mean that our meat is GMO, any more than people would be genetically modified if they ate GMO grains.” He also added that beverages don’t count as food.
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages, and Chipotle said they plan to contest the claims.