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Judge Green Lights Lawsuit Against Chipotle Over GMO Claims

The chain faces legal action because of its ingredients

Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

Chipotle's business woes continued Thursday after a federal judge said a lawsuit against the company over genetically modified foods could move forward, according to the Wall Street Journal. A suit filed in Florida and seeking class action status accuses Chipotle of deceiving its customers by advertising that its restaurants are GMO-free while still serving items that may contain genetically modified materials.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges the animals Chipotle uses have been fed genetically modified foods, thus nullifying the chain's GMO-free claims. Chipotle has previously publicized the complete elimination of GMOs from its menu, and its website reads, "It is important to note that most 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."

This appears to be an intolerable gray area for those behind the suit in Florida, as well as those behind a similar suit that was filed in California but later dismissed. Chipotle's spokesman Chris Arnold told WSJ, "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."

The Florida suit popped up in August, as Chipotle was in the midst of a rash of foodborne illnesses across a number of restaurants.