Chipotle Mexican Grill’s descriptions of its menu are at the center of a federal lawsuit.
Reuters reports that Colleen Gallagher of Piedmont, California, is suing the publicly owned company for alleged false advertising. Her lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
The plaintiff calls out Chipotle for its April announcement that it is the first national restaurant company to cook only with ingredients that are free of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
Gallagher claims that Chipotle violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act with false and misleading food claims, deceiving customers into paying more for Chipotle’s food, according to Reuters:
“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.”
Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold declined to discuss the lawsuit with Reuters but said “we do plan to contest this.”
Chipotle’s website also includes disclaimers about some GMOs in its food. For example:
The meat and dairy products we buy come from animals that are not genetically modified. But it is important to note 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.
The Food and Drug Administration is the federal agency that regulates the safety of foods, including those that have been genetically engineered. As the FDA defines it:
Genetic engineering is the name for certain methods that scientists use to introduce new traits or characteristics to an organism. For example, plants may be genetically engineered to produce characteristics to enhance the growth or nutritional profile of food crops. While these technique are sometimes referred to as “genetic modification,” FDA considers “genetic engineering” to be the more precise term.
The FDA’s website states that “foods from genetically engineered plants must meet the same requirements, including safety requirements, as foods from traditionally bred plants.”
GMOs are a contested topic, however, and many consumers prefer not to eat them.
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