Chipotle Sued Over Non-GMO Menu Changes

Photo: Courtesy of Chipotle.
Update: After announcing in April that the chain would no longer serve genetically modified food on its menu, Chipotle is being sued over the claim. According to a press release, a federal class action suit against the fast-casual burrito restaurant was filed in San Francisco. The lawsuit contends that Chipotle's menu has never been completely GMO-free, and that its recent “Food With Integrity” campaign was "false and misleading to customers." Among other things, the complaint alleges that Chipotle serves meat products that come from animals which feed on GMOs, including soy and corn, that its sour cream and cheese ingredients come from dairy farms that feed animals with GMOs, and that Chipotle sells soft drinks that are made with corn-syrup—a GMO," reads the press release. Refinery29 reached out to Chipotle for comment received the following response from its communications director: “Generally speaking, we do not discuss details of pending legal action, though we do plan to contest this,” stated Chris Arnold.

This post was originally published on April 27, 2015.

If you thought Chipotle offering delivery was a big deal, wait until you hear the latest news from the fast food giant. The burrito chain has announced that beginning today, it will no longer serve any food that contains genetically modified ingredients. This is major news for the quick-service restaurant world: The announcement makes Chipotle the first-ever large-scale fast food establishment to offer a completely GMO-free menu. "Just because food is served fast, doesn’t mean it has to be made with cheap raw ingredients, highly processed with preservatives and fillers and stabilizers and artificial colors and flavors," Chipotle founder and co-chief executive Steve Ells told the The New York Times.

Chipotle made the decision in March 2013 to publicly disclose the GMO ingredients in its offerings. Since then, the company has been working to make major changes concerning the sourcing of those ingredients, most notably of its corn and soybean oil. Chipotle got corn suppliers to plant non-GMO specifically for its corn tortillas, and the chain has ultimately been able to switch to non-GMO sunflower oil.

So, why is Chipotle so concerned with removing GMO ingredients from its menu? The brand released a thorough explanation on its website (complete with infographics!) stating the three main reasons for the switch: unclear findings on the longterm effects of GMOs, the negative impact GMOs can have on the environment, and a desire to stay aligned with the shifting food-related standards of its consumers. Despite a current consumer push for food that doesn't contain genetically modified ingredients, there isn't sufficient scientific evidence proving that they have a negative affect on peoples' health.

While personally I'm glad to see that Chipotle is focused on keeping its customers happy, I have to admit, one of my first concerns was for burrito prices! Would they go up again? Fortunately, Chipotle took cost into account, and we won’t be shoveling out hefty sums for non-GMO burritos. As if the chain’s latest announcement wasn’t big enough, Chipotle also stated in its press release that it intends to remove the last few remaining artificial ingredients from its tortillas, too.
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