It’s been more than a year since the popular Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it would serve nothing that contained genetically altered ingredients.
As Steve Ellis, founder and CEO of Chipotle told the New York Times, “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."
The public's response was less than stellar as many consumers, groups and media outlets, even Mother Jones, were quick to point out that the restaurant still serves meat from animals raised on GMO feed, uses sour cream and cheese ingredients sourced from dairy farms that also utilize GMO feed, and soda served in its stores still are made with GMO ingredients.
The first of what eventually was many lawsuits was filed last September by the law firm Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer alleging Chipotle violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, the California False Advertising Law, and the California Unfair Competition Law by knowingly making false claims and misleading consumers. Click here to read more.
Now, according to Legal NewsLine, Chipotle’s legal woes are growing as six consumers filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Chipotle, and the ruling could have a ripple effect on other companies making similar GMO-free claims.
“I believe that greater scrutiny will be applied to GMO-free claims,” Michael Roberts, executive director of the Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy at the University of California, told Legal Newsline. “It is likely that this scrutiny will lead to further suits against not just Chipotle, but others as well. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that the attention on Chipotle may be due in part to its recent food safety problems, which has raised questions about the company's integrity.”
GMO-free claims may work as a marketing tactic, but a new study from the National Academies of Sciences found “no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops, nor did it find conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from the GE crops.”