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Frito-Lay Faces Lawsuit Over Deceptive Advertising Claims

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Frito-Lay's "Naturally Delicious" FAQ page

Frito-Lay's "Naturally Delicious" FAQ page

A proposed class action lawsuit filed in federal court in New York claims that Frito-Lay is misleading customers by labeling its Tostitos and SunChips as being made of “all-natural ingredients.”

The lawsuit claims that the chips in question actually contain non-natural ingredients such as corn and vegetable oils that have been made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A reasonable consumer, the lawsuit avers, would not consider oils from GMOs to be “all-natural.”

The plaintiff Chris Shake asserts that he paid extra (about 10 cents more) for the so-called “all-natural” chips instead of opting for chips like Doritos that do not make such claims — and that Frito-Lay’s allegedly deceptive advertising cost him and others similarly situated money.

Frito-Lay spokesperson Aurora Gonzalez maintains that the company’s packaging “complies with all regulatory requirements.” Frito-Lay’s website has a page of frequently asked questions devoted to their “naturally delicious” snacks, nothing that “All Frito-Lay snack chips made with natural ingredients start with all-natural corn or potatoes and healthier oils.”

According to Reuters, although the Center for Food Safety has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require that GMOs to be labeled as such, no requirement currently exists — and neither does a precise definition of “natural” for when it appears on food labels.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $5 million and is similar to a lawsuit recently filed in California.

What do you think of products containing GMOs being labeled as all-natural? Is Frito-Lay misleading customers if, as the lawsuit alleges, its oils are produces from genetically modified plants?

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February 9th, 2012 at 10:13 am