Three private plaintiffs are suing Chipotle in a Los Angeles superior court for inaccurate calorie labeling for its chorizo burrito. The plaintiffs, who are alleging breach of warranty and violations of California’s Business and Professions Code, are seeking class action certification that would cover all people who bought food at Chipotle for the four years leading up to the filing of the complaint.
The Chipotle menu board in question states “CHORIZO BURRITO: Try our new deliciously seasoned, perfectly grilled spicy chicken and pork sausage in a burrito with white rice, black beans, fresh tomato salsa, and sprinkle of cheese.” This text is followed by the price of the burrito and the statement “300 calories.” However, when one uses Chipotle’s Nutrition Calculator, the burrito described on the menu board has more than 1,000 calories; Chipotle has stated that the 300 calories was intended to refer only to the chorizo component.
The Chipotle suit highlights that restaurants may face litigation risk if the calorie information on its menu boards is inaccurate. We expect this will not be the last calorie lawsuit we hear about as the compliance date for federal menu labeling requirements approaches on May 5, 2017. The federal requirements apply to restaurants (and similar retail food establishments) if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, offering for sale substantially the same menu items and offering for sale restaurant-type foods. Only calorie information must be displayed on menus and menu boards; however, additional nutrition information must be available on request.