A consumer has filed a lawsuit alleging that Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. falsely advertised its food as free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) despite serving meat products from animals fed GMOs and soft drinks that contain GMO corn syrup. Pappas v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No. 16-0612 (S.D. Cal., filed March 10, 2016). The plaintiff alleges violations of California's consumer-protection law and seeks class certification, damages, an injunction, and attorney's fees.
The complaint echoes the arguments in a similar California case dismissed without prejudice in February 2016 finding that the plaintiff's definition of GMO was inconsistent. The plaintiff has filed an amended complaint arguing that consumers "reasonably understand today that such claims would mean that Chipotle's menu is 100% free of GMOs and that Chipotle does not serve food sourced from animals that have been raised on GMOs or genetically engineered food." Gallagher v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No. 15-3952 (N.D. Cal., amended complaint filed March 11, 2016). The plaintiff further argues that consumer organizations such as the Non-GMO Project and government authorities have aided in educating the public to associate "Non-GMO" with this cited definition. Additional information about the initial complaint appears in Issue 577 of this Update, and details about the dismissal appear in Issue 595.