Frito-Lay’s Ruffles slapped with two class actions over alleged flavour misrepresentation

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Frito-Lay is in court over alleged false advertising of its Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream potato chips. Pic: Frito-LayFrito-Lay
Frito-Lay is in court over alleged false advertising of its Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream potato chips. Pic: Frito-LayFrito-Lay

Related tags: Pepsico, Frito-lay, Ruffles, false advertising

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay is facing two class actions alleging its Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream potato chips are misleading consumers into believing they are naturally flavoured.

According to the lawsuits filed in New York in March and California in April, the packaging of the potato chips does not contain the legally-required ‘artificially flavoured’ labelling on the front.

California resident Tami Svensrud and New Yorker Oscar Ithier argue this inaccurate labelling has led consumers into believing the products are flavoured naturally, when, in fact, they contain artificial flavours.

The snacks allegedly contain artificial flavourings that mimic cheddar cheese and butter, both of which are not noted on the front of the packaging.

Allegedly, the only mention of ‘artificial flavours’ on the Raffles pack is in the ingredients list on the back.

Alleged misrepresentation

The plaintiffs claim this misrepresentation violates both California and federal law.

Svensrud’s lawsuit notes the California Health and Safety Code requires artificially flavoured foods to be labelled as such on the front of the packaging. Ithier’s class action states federal law requires ‘any artificial flavour which simulates, resembles or reinforces the characterising flavour’ also to be identified clearly on the front label.

Svensrud’s suit adds the only indication on front-of-pack that the product might not be made with real cheddar cheese and sour cream is the word ‘flavour’, written in ‘an inconspicuous colour’ and placed in a ‘hard-to-spot location’. Furthermore, front-of-pack also contains images of ‘real’ cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Svensrud says the misrepresentation also violates the Consumer Legal Remedies Act and the Unfair Competition law.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for financial injury on behalf of themselves and all other customers who purchased Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream potato chips in the past four years for personal consumption.

They are also asking for the snack giant to return profits that were purportedly ‘unjustly’ gained from the sale of these chips.

Cases:

The Frito-Lay Ruffles Artificial Flavouring Class Action Lawsuit is Tami Svensrud v. Frito-Lay North America Inc., et al., Case No. 8:20-cv-00714, in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

The Ruffles Flavouring Class Action Lawsuit is Ithier v. Frito-Lay North America Inc., Case No. 7:20-cv-01810, in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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