Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. named in class action lawsuit over claim food is free from GMOs

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The class action law suit against Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. is on behalf of all California consumers who purchased food products from Chipotle between April 27, 2015 and the present. The lawsuit alleges that Chipotle’s marketing and advertising campaign that claims its menu does not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is actually deceptive and misleading to consumers because many of Chipotle’s menu items actually do contain GMOs.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that Chipotle has marketed its “Food With Integrity” brand to healthy-lifestyle and environmentally conscious consumers who are willing to pay premium prices for food that aligns with the consumers’ ethical eating choices. The lawsuit alleges that beginning on April 27, 2015, Chipotle launched a multi-media publicity campaign that advertised and represented to consumers that Chipotle was “G-M-Over it” and that it only uses “non-GMO ingredients.” The complaint alleges that Chipotle’s claims are false and misleading to customers because Chipotle’s menu was never free of GMOs at any time. 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.

Syngenta named in class action lawsuit over release of MIR162

This class action is brought by Plaintiff challenging the conduct of Syngenta, which has caused significant damage and financial loss to Plaintiff and the Class of similarly situated farmers throughout the United States. Syngenta’s contamination of the U.S. corn supply has made it unfit for export to China, a major trade partner and importer of corn, thereby depressing the price of corn in the United States.

This case challenges Syngenta’s conduct with regard to MIR162, utilized in the Agrisure Viptera ™ and Agrisure Duracade™ trait stacks. Over seventy (70) varieties of corn utilize the MIR162 trait to produce a protein that results in insect resistance. These corn varieties are commonly referred to as Viptera corn and Duracade corn, representing the particular traits the corn will express. MIR162 was intended to control insect damage; however Syngenta’s actions caused the contamination of the entire U.S. corn supply MIR162 is prohibited from export to countries such as China, where it has not been approved for purchase or consumption. Syngenta knew this, yet still marketed and sold Viptera, which contained MIR162. Such conduct was reckless, deceptive, and unlawful. This conduct caused financial loss to the Class, by amongst other things, causing a depression in corn prices.

MIR162 corn was only planted on about 3% of U.S. acres for the last two seasons. While only a very small percentage of U.S. farmers plant MIR162 corn, the level of MIR162 corn planted is too high to ensure that any shipment of U.S. corn will not be contaminated with trace amounts of MIR162 after corn has been commingled and consolidated for export. Thus, as a result of China’s prohibition on the importation of MIR162 corn, even in trace, low-level amounts, and Syngenta’s decision to continue marketing MIR162 to a small minority of U.S. corn farmers the vast majority of U.S. corn has been effectively excluded from what was previously the third-largest export market for U.S. corn, causing U.S. farmers significant damages as corn prices have dropped from the loss of China’s export markets.

 

Due to Syngenta’s conduct the Class have incurred losses, damage, and injury arising from the rejection of U.S. grown corn by export markets. Plaintiff and the members of the Class have been damaged, at least, by: (1) Syngenta’s premature release of Viptera corn into the U.S. corn and corn seed supply which has reduced and/or prevented the export of U.S. corn to China and caused a depression of corn prices; (2) Syngenta’s subsequent release of Duracade corn into the U.S. corn and corn seed supply which, again, has effectively foreclosed U.S. exports of corn to China; (3) Syngenta’s materially misleading failure to disclose material facts that MIR162 was not approved in China; (4) Syngenta’s premature release of Viptera and Duracade corn into the U.S. corn and corn seed supply resulting in the commingling of MIR162-corn with Plaintiff and the Class’s non-MIR162 corn at grain elevators, terminals, rail cars, barges, and ships; and, (5) upon information and belief, Syngenta’s widespread contamination of the U.S. corn and corn seed supply with MIR162 which will continue to result in the reduction of the U.S. corn export market to China (and prices) in the future. But for the conduct of Syngenta complained of herein, these losses would not have occurred by the Class.

See complaint here: Syngenta Complaint

American Gourmet Food, makers of Pirate’s Booty, named in class action lawsuit for false advertising of products

Defendant American Gourmet Food  markets, advertises, and distributes various snack foods under the Pirate Brands name, which they prominently advertise as “all natural.” The snack foods at issue include Original Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks, Pirate’s Booty Aged White Cheddar Rice and Corn Puffs, Pirate’s Booty Barbeque Rice and Corn Puffs, Pirate’s Booty Chocolate Rice and Corn Puffs, Pirate’s Booty New York Pizza Rice and Corn Puffs, Pirate’s Booty Sour Cream & Onion Rice and Corn Puffs, Pirate’s Booty Veggie Rice and Corn Puffs, Potato Flyers Baked Potato Chips Home-style Barbeque, Potato Flyers Baked Potato Chips Sour Cream & Onion, Potato Flyers Baked Potato Chips The Original, and Smart Puffs Real Wisconsin Cheddar Baked Cheese Puffs (collectively, the “Product(s)”).

As alleged, these snacks are not natural, for two independent reasons. First, the Products are made with genetically modified crops. A genetically modified crop, such as the corn, soy, and grape seed (canola) from which the Products are derived, is a crop whose genetic material has been altered by humans using genetic engineering techniques. The World Health Organization defines GM organisms (which include crops) as “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.” GM crops are not natural, but man-made. There are wide ranging controversies related to GM crops, including health risks from ingesting GM foods and negative environmental effects associated with growing GM crops. The use and labeling of GM foods is the subject of a variety of laws, regulations, and protocols worldwide.

Second, some of the Products’ ingredients are so heavily processed that they bear no chemical resemblance to the sources from which they were derived. In addition, the Products are the result of high temperature puffing, baking, or cooking that chemically alters the rice, corn, and potatoes to contain a potentially carcinogenic chemical. Through heavy industrialized processing, Pirate Brands snack foods are man-made, rather than natural. Ironically, the GM attributes of the ingredients persist despite this heavy processing because the changes are chemical, and not genetic.

Although the Products are not “all natural,” Defendant prominently labels every package of the Products sold in the United States as “all natural.” Defendant does this because consumers understandably perceive all natural foods as better, healthier, and more wholesome. In fact, the market for all natural foods has grown rapidly in recent years, a trend Defendant seeks to take advantage of through false advertising.

Plaintiff brings claims against Defendant in her individual capacity and on behalf of a Florida class (“Class”) of all other similarly situated purchasers of the Products for violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.  Plaintiff seeks an order requiring Defendant to, among other things: (1) cease its unlawful marketing; (2) conduct a corrective advertising campaign; and (3) pay damages and restitution to Plaintiff and Class members in the amounts paid to purchase the Products at issue.

JM Smucker named in class action over marketing GMO products as “All Natural”

Smuckers manufactures, markets, and sells cooking oils nationwide from its manufacturing plant in Orrville, Ohio, including Crisco Natural Blend Oil, Crisco Pure Corn Oil, Crisco Pure Canola Oil, and Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil (collectively, the “Products”).

In an effort to capture a segment of the lucrative health food market, Defendant has systematically labeled the Products as “all natural” on the product packaging, so that any United States consumer who purchases the Products is exposed to Defendant’s “all natural” claim.

As alleged, this claim is deceptive and misleading because the Products are made with unnatural ingredients. Specifically, the Products are made with plants whose genes have been altered by scientists in a lab for the express purpose of causing those plants to exhibit traits that are not naturally their own. Genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”) are not natural by design.

Accordingly, Defendant misleads and deceives reasonable consumers, including the named Plaintiff and the other members of the Class, by portraying products made from unnatural ingredients as “All Natural.”

Defendant’s conduct harms consumers by inducing them to purchase and consume products with GMOs on the false premise that the products are “all natural.”

Plaintiff brings claims against Defendant individually and on behalf of a California class of all other similarly situated purchasers of the Products and seeks an order requiring Defendant to, among 4 other things: (1) cease the unlawful marketing; (2) conduct a corrective advertising campaign; and (3) pay damages and restitution to Plaintiff and Class members in the amounts paid to purchase the  products at issue.

General Mills named in class action over sale of foods containing Genetically Modified Organisms

According to the complaint, Defendant General Mills has made false, misleading statements that are likely to deceive reasonable consumers.

Defendant has mistakenly or misleadingly represented that its Nature Valley® granola bars are “100% Natural” (the “Product”), when in fact, they are not, because they contain Genetically Modified Organisms (“GMOs”).

Defendant manufacturers, markets, advertises, and sells the Product in at least thirty (30) different varieties/flavors, including, but not limited to the following varieties, which contain GMOs in the form of Yellow Corn Flour, Soy Flour, and/or Soy Lecithin: a) Nature Valley® Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunchy granola bars; and  b) Nature Valley® Oats and Honey Crunchy granola bars.

The labeling and packaging for Defendant’s Nature Valley® Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunchy Granola Bars, shows the “100% Natural statement and the GMO based ingredients as Yellow Corn Flour, Soy Flour, and/or Soy Lecithin.

The labeling and packaging for Defendant’s Nature Valley® Oats and Honey Crunchy Granola Bars, shows the “100% Natural statement and the GMO based ingredients as Yellow Corn Flour, Soy Flour, and/or Soy Lecithin.

Defendant’s “100% Natural” statement prominently displayed on the Product’s packaging and/or labeling is false, misleading, and likely to deceive reasonable consumers, such as Plaintiff and members of the Class, because the Product is not “100% Natural,” due to the presence of GMOs in the Product.

GMOs are plants that grow from seeds in which DNA splicing has been used to place genes from another source into a plant. Contrary to Defendant’s express or implied representations, the Product uses plants or plant derivatives grown or created from GMOs.

FRITO-LAY NORTH AMERICA, INC named in class action lawsuit over labeling of Smartfood Selects as ‘All Natural’ despite containing Genetically Modified Organisms

According to the lawsuit, Frito-Lay has erroneously represented that its Smartfood Selects popcorn products are “All Natural” on the product labeling and/or packaging.

As alleged in the complaint, Defendant represents that the following products are “All Natural, when in fact, they are not, because they contain Genetically Modified Organisms (“GMOs”), specifically in the form of corn and/or corn derivatives known to contain GMOs:

All Natural Smartfood Selects Buffalo Cheddar Popcorn;

All Natural Smartfood Selects Cinnamon Brown Sugar Popcorn;

All Natural Smartfood Selects Parmesan Herb Popcorn;

All Natural Smartfood Selects Sour Cream Onion Puffed Corn;

All Natural Smartfood Selects Feta Herb Hummus Popped Chips;

All Natural Smartfood Selects Garlic Tomato Basil Hummus Popped Chips;

All Natural Smartfood Selects Cinnamon Brown Sugar Multigrain Popped Chips;

All Natural Smartfood Selects Italian Herb Multigrain Popped Chips;

All Natural Smartfood Selects Blueberry Almond Vanilla Granola Coated Popcorn; and

All Natural Smartfood Selects Honey Cinnamon Pecan Granola Coated Popcorn

Contrary to Defendant’s representations, however, the Products use plants or plant derivatives grown from GMOs, specifically in the form of corn and/or corn variations, among other ingredients, that are known to be derived from GMOs.

 

GMOs are plants that grow from seeds in which DNA splicing has been used to  place genes from another source into a plant. Plaintiff contends •that products containing GMOs should not be labeled “All Natural” when they contain GMOs, and that Defendant’s advertising and labeling is deceptive  and likely to mislead the public as a result.

Plaintiff would not have purchased the Product if he had known that the Defendant could not support their claim that the Product is “All Natural” because it contains GMOs.

 

Plaintiff seeks to represent the following class:  all United States persons who have purchased, All Natural Smartfood Selects Buffalo Cheddar Popcorn, All Natural Smartfood Selects Cinnamon Brown Sugar Popcorn, All Natural Smartfood Selects Parmesan Herb Popcorn, All Natural Smartfood Selects Sour Cream Onion Puffed Corn, All Natural Smartfood Selects Feta Herb Hummus Popped Chips, All Natural Smartfood Selects Garlic Tomato Basil Hummus Popped Chips, All Natural Smartfood Selects Cinnamon Brown Sugar Multigrain Popped Chips, All Natural Smartfood Selects Italian Herb Multigrain Popped Chips, All Natural Smartfood Selects Blueberry Almond Vanilla Granola Coated Popcorn, or All Natural Smartfood Selects Honey Cinnamon Pecan Granola Coated Popcorn (the “Products”), for personal use during the period extending from the date Defendant first used the labeling representations on the Products, through and to the tiling date of the original Complaint.

Complaint: Frito-Lay Complaint