Updated with a response from Chipotle.
When things seem too good to be true, they usually are.
Three customers in Los Angeles have filed a class action suit against Chipotle, alleging that the Mexican food company misrepresented the calorie count on its chorizo burrito. A sign in Chipotle restaurants claimed that the chorizo burrito was just 300 calories. But a reporter at Slate has pointed out that the burrito described on the sign -- one packed with cheese and pork sausage -- likely clocks in around 1,000 calories, according to Chipotle’s own nutritional calculator.
Like all good substantive debates, the shock over the burritos made its way to Twitter, where some folks not connected to the lawsuit registered their disbelief.
Chipotle informed these customers that the burrito was 300 calories with just the chorizo.
As reported by City News Service, the proposed class action suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court will cover anyone who bought food at Chipotle in the four years leading up to the filing of their suit (even though, as USA Today points out, chorizo is a relatively new offering).
The suit alleges that the Chipotle signage and menu misleads consumers, lulling them “into a false belief that the items they are eating are healthier than they really are.”
To be sure, the real confusion is complicated by a real benefit Chipotle offers to customers: a highly customizable menu. Customers have a matrix of options, from toppings to tortillas that accommodates allergies and dietary restrictions. And while these options expand choice, they can make certain nutritional information more complicated to communicate to customers in stores, who can only depend on signage and not the interactive online calculator the company offers.
The lawsuit is the latest in a string of hard news for the company since some food safety lapses last fall, ones that led to the company’s first ever quarterly revenue loss. Sales have not rebounded to levels before the outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella and norovirus. Chipotle has seen some bumps this year as well, including suits over unpaid wages.
In response, Chris Arnold, a communications director for Chipotle wrote Entrepreneur: "As a matter of policy, we don’t discuss details surrounding pending legal action. I will note, however, that a lawsuit is nothing more than allegations and is proof of nothing. Generally speaking, we always work hard to maintain transparency around what is in our food, including the nutritional content, which is provided on an ingredient-by-ingredient basis (all of that that information is available here). In presenting information regarding the calories in our chorizo, it was never our intent to create any confusion."