Chipotle, the fast-casual joint famous for its large, high-calorie burritos, has a history of overselling its food production methods. And now it has come back to bite the restaurant chain in the form of a class action lawsuit. According to NBC News:
A California woman has accused the popular chain in a lawsuit of false advertising after it trumpeted on April 27 that it was the first national restaurant company to use only ingredients that are free of controversial genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
The lawsuit claims that Chipotle isn’t sufficiently forthcoming with disclaimers that many of the beverages it sells contain GMOs and most of its meat and dairy products come from animals that eat GMO feed.
Of course, the lawsuit is essentially meaningless because nearly 2,000 studies have found GMOs are just as healthy and safe as conventional foods. But the lawsuit demonstrates just how willing Chipotle is to fudge its so-called “Food with Integrity” principles when it’s convenient.
After prohibiting antibiotic use to treat sick animals in its food supply, Chipotle backtracked and is hypocritically allowing a new pork supplier to use antibiotics – in Europe (how’s that for “buying local?”). Like the “no GMO” claim, “antibiotic-free” is also an empty slogan. Animals go through a waiting period to ensure antibiotics don’t enter the food supply. (And Chipotle’s no-antibiotics-ever sounds good, until you consider how to deal with an animal that gets sick.)
Chipotle also asserts that it supports animal welfare by forbidding its suppliers from using individual maternity pens to house pregnant sows. This is yet another hollow promise from Chipotle as both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians determined that maternity pens provide for animal welfare.
Chipotle has called the GMO lawsuit against it “meritless,” but the scientific consensus that GMOs are as safe and healthy as conventional foods show Chipotle’s own marketing lacks any filling.