The Center for Consumer Freedom continued its campaign titled “Chubby Chipotle” Monday by rolling out its third advertisement, titled “Burrito Disguise.” The campaign alleges that the popular Mexican grill’s marketing spins a false narrative to consumers that Chipotle’s food is healthier and that the company’s practices are more ethical, according to Chubby Chipotle’s website.
The advertisement released Monday featured a burrito sporting a glasses-and-mustache disguise and reads: “Chipotle uses deceptive marketing to trick consumers into thinking 1,500-calorie burritos are healthier than other restaurant foods. The chain is now facing a class-action lawsuit.”
— Todd M. Weber, PhD (@TWeber_EBNC) September 21, 2015
“Chipotle promotes a local farm profile and is critical of big processing food suppliers, but its food is processed in large factories and the company shares a distribution chain with McDonald’s and Taco Bell,” said Will Coggin, director of research at the Center for Consumer Freedom, according to a news release. “Chipotle’s marketing spins a false narrative that its food is healthier and more ethical, but consumers should know Chipotle is pretending to be something it isn’t, and deceiving them in order to sell 1,500-calorie burritos.”
The popular restaurant chain has received negative attention since a class-action lawsuit was filed this month alleging that Chipotle violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act with false and misleading food labeling. While the company claims to be GMO-free, disclaimers on Chipotle’s website state that there might be GMO content in some of its food. The disclaimers inform customers that most animal feed in the U.S. is genetically modified, so the meat and dairy served by Chipotle most likely comes from animals that have consumed GMOs. The disclaimers also state that many of the chain's beverages contain GMOs.
The Center for Consumer Freedom's "Chubby Chipotle" campaign highlights the lawsuit's claim along with other questionable practices in which the restaurant chain allegedly partakes. The campaign states that while Chipotle previously claimed its meat didn’t come from animals that had been given antibiotics, the chain quietly changed its standard on treating sick animals with medicines because it is getting its meat from a new European supplier, according to the Center for Consumer Freedom. The nonprofit organization also claimed Chipotle deceptively markets its beef as free of added hormones without mentioning that all beef is low in hormones.
Chipotle, however, has said the lawsuit filed against it is “meritless” and “filled with inaccuracies,” according to Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s communications director, Fortune reported. “Chipotle has always been honest and transparent with its customers, and the messaging surrounding our use of non-GMO ingredients is no exception.” Arnold also said that while the meat Chipotle serves is from animals fed GMO grains, “that does not mean that our meat is GMO, any more than people would be genetically modified if they ate GMO grains.”