In our January 15, 2013 Scales of Justice blog, we detailed a class action lawsuit against Pepsico and Kellogs for alleged false "All Natural" labeling of Kashi and Naked Juice products. Similarly, a new proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in Brooklyn federal court against Pepsico and Frito Lay North America.
The Brooklyn federal court action alleges that SunChips and Tostitos are falsely labeled as "All Natural", when they contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. Further, that consumers pay 10 cents per ounce more for these products, which they are falsely led to believe are all natural chips. While 10 cents per ounce may not sound like a lot of money, the suit estimates the total damages to exceed $5 million dollars.
In response to the filed class action suit, a spokesperson for Frito Lay stated that the company was confident the labeling on its packaging "complies with all regulatory requirements". Notwithstanding, the claimants assert that a reasonable consumer assumes that all natural food does not include food with genetically modified organisms created artificially in a laboratory with intermingling of genetic materials.
A similar lawsuit was filed last December in California federal court, also seeking to recover money damages alleged to have been paid by consumers in search of all natural food products. The Center for Food Safety indicates that a comprehensive formal definition of the term "natural" does not exist with regard to food labels, with minor exception for some meat products. In 2011 the Center for Food Safety unsuccesfully petitioned the FDA to require all food with genetically modified ingredients to be clearly labeled as such.
In that we do not have full disclosure food label laws in the US to afford consumers both choice and protection, lawsuits of this nature will likely prove difficult to win. Ironically, many politicians that support the status quo with regaqrd to our food label laws or lack thereof, do not serve genetically engineered food in their own homes. If you believe we should have full disclosure food label laws in the US, then email, Tweet or otherwise notify Senators Chuck Schumer (schumer.senate.gov) and Kirsten Gillibrand (gillibrand.senate.gov).
Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.