On October 19, 2020, class claims were filed against Frito-Lay Inc. in federal court in the Southern District of California by a class of consumers who allege that the defendant chip company knowingly misrepresented the true ingredients in its Baked Lays Cheddar & Sour Cream flavor chips (“the mislabeled chips”).
In the complaint, named plaintiff Jesika Vado alleges that the defendant intentionally labeled and marketed its cheddar and sour cream chips in a way that misled customers into thinking that the product contains natural flavors. The plaintiff bolstered her argument that consumers assumed the product is naturally flavored, by pointing to the outside packaging of Baked Lays Cheddar & Sour Cream Flavor chips, which prominently featured a wedge of cheddar cheese and a bowl of white sour cream. The packaging in question is designed with an eye-catching orange and white color scheme that further associates with cheddar cheese and sour cream.
The complaint argues the defendant is aware of a trend in food purchasing that indicates consumers increasingly seek products that obtain their flavors from characterizing food ingredients, and therefore made the choice to feature cheddar and sour cream on the packaging of the product. However, despite the prominent placement of a bowl of sour cream on the front of the chips in question, the product actually achieves the flavor of sour cream through the use of artificial diacetyl.
According to the complaint, California State and federal regulations require that consumers be informed whenever a food “contains any artificial flavor which simulates, resembles or reinforces the characterizing flavor.” Plaintiff alleges that the artificial flavoring is not disclosed on the front label of the chips. The plaintiff argues that the defendant was aware of the regulations given it actively markets another brand of cheddar and sour cream chips under its Ruffles label, which do in fact contain actual sour cream.
The plaintiff seeks to represent a class made up of all purchasers of Baked Lays Cheddar & Sour Cream flavor chips, who are or were residents of California during the applicable statutes of limitations. The suit brings causes of action for unlawful business practices in violation of Business and Professions Code Section 17200, unfair business practices in violation of Business and Professions Code Section 17200, false advertising violation of Business and Professions Code Section 17200, untrue advertising in violation of Business and Professions Code Section 17200, violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act California Civil Code Section 1750 and restitution/unjust enrichment.
The case is: Vado v. Frito Lay Inc., Case No.: 3:20-cv-02055, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
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