Chipotle sued over its allegedly deceptive non-GM advertising campaign.

  • As covered on our blog earlier this year, Chipotle Mexican Grill launched a nationwide advertising campaign premised on the chain’s pledge to serve food made only with non-genetically modified (GM) ingredients.  The company included caveats on its website to indicate that meat and dairy products may come from animals that consume GM grain and that many beverages (e.g., soda) contain GM ingredients (e.g., corn syrup, virtually always sourced from GM corn).
  • On August 31, 2015, a class action lawsuit was filed against Chipotle in the “Food Court” (Northern District of California), based on allegations that the chain’s non-GM advertising campaign violates California consumer protection, false advertising, and unfair competition laws.  The complaint alleges that Chipotle makes false and misleading representations to consumers in claiming that its food products do not contain GMOs.  The complaint acknowledges the existence of the website “carve-outs” for animal products and beverages, but dismisses such disclaimers as contrary to the overall “G-M-Over It” message of the campaign and alleges that consumers are “highly unlikely” to seek out such qualifying language when deciding whether or not to patronize the chain.
  • The current lawsuit highlights the continuing controversy over the presence of GM ingredients in the food supply, as well as the risks that companies face in developing truthful, non-misleading statements about the “GM” or “non-GM” content of their products.