Frito-Lay Faces Lawsuit Over All-Natural Claims

A class action lawsuit accuses Frito-Lay of hiding GMOs behind labels claiming 'all-natural ingredients'
 Frito-Lay Faces Lawsuit Over All-Natural Claims

Is it a crime to not explicitly disclose whether or not your products are made with GMOs? Technically: no. But misleading consumers with false information can be, and in this day and age with consumers growing more concerned about food safety issues, leaving out pertinent information isn’t likely to cast your company in a good light. Take Frito-Lay, for instance. The company has been hit with a class action lawsuit, drawn up by Milberg LLP at the behest of plaintiff Julie Gengo, on the grounds that the company misleads its consumers by touting “all-natural ingredients” in products like Tostitos and SunChips that are made with genetically modified corn and vegetable oils.

“Frito-Lay labels certain of its Tostitos and SunChips products as ‘made with ALL NATURAL ingredients,’” reads the lawsuit. “This representation is central to Frito-Lay’s marketing of Tostitos and SunChips, and this label is displayed on the product itself, the Frito-Lay website, and Tostitos’s and SunChips’s advertisements… But Tostitos and SunChips products are not made of ‘all natural’ ingredients. Each of the products that are the subject of this action contain corn and vegetable oil as their main ingredients.”




“But the corn and vegetable oils (including corn, soybean, and canola oil) are made from genetically modified plants and organisms (‘GM’ or ‘GMO’),” the lawsuit continues. “Monsanto Company… defines GMO on its website as food with its genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs…’ As more fully alleged below, a recognized defining characteristic of genetically modified foods is that they are not natural.”

It seems like a clear-cut argument, but the laws regarding “all-natural” claims are a gray area, especially where they pertain to GMOs. According to Food Navigator USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not addressed the issue of giving a proper official definition to the term “all-natural” since 1993, despite petitions from various organizations. This alone could give Frito-Lay a leg up on its opposition. “While we do not comment specifically on ongoing litigation,” Frito-Lay spokesperson Aurora Gonzalez told Food Navigator, “we are confident that the labeling on our packaging complies with all regulatory requirements.”

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