Wall Street Journal: Judge Says Lawsuit Accusing Chipotle of Deception Over GMOs Can Go Forward

Burrito chain’s spokesman says there is no merit to claims, trial date is set for November

By Julie Jargon
April 20, 2016

A lawsuit accusing Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. of deceiving customers with claims that its food is free of genetically modified organisms can move ahead, a federal judge has ruled.

The case, filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida in September and seeking class action status, claims that Chipotle misled consumers in ads saying its food is GMO-free. Chipotle’s meat and dairy products come from animals that consume genetically modified feed, the suit alleges. A Miami judge on Wednesday rejected Chipotle’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. A trial date is set for November.

“We generally don’t speak to details of pending legal actions, but don’t believe there is any merit in these claims and will contest them,” Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said.

The claims are similar to those laid out in another lawsuit filed around the same time in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, which was dismissed by a judge this month after the plaintiff decided to withdraw. The plaintiff’s lawyer in that case couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Chipotle last year thrust itself into the controversy over GMOs when it said it would become the first national restaurant company to use only non-GMO ingredients.

In a statement on its website, Chipotle acknowledges that most of the 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 chain states that it has been working to overcome that challenge, pointing to its grass-fed beef.

The company also states on its website that many of the beverages it sells contain genetically modified ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup, which it says is almost always made from genetically modified corn.

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