A California couple has filed two putative class actions alleging that the makers of Lay’s® and Pringles® salt-and-vinegarflavored chips mislabel and deceptively advertise their products, leading customers to believe the chips are naturally flavored when they actually contain artificial chemical flavorings. Allred v. Kellogg, No. 17-1354 (S.D. Cal., removed to federal court July 5, 2017); Allred v. Frito-Lay N. Am., No. 17-1345 (S.D. Cal., removed to federal court July 3, 2017). In both suits, the plaintiffs claim the manufacturers label and advertise the potato snacks “as if [they] were flavored only with natural ingredients” and as containing “no artificial flavors.”

The plaintiffs allege that although both products contain “actual vinegar—but in an amount too small to flavor the product,” the chips’ vinegar flavors are artificial. The Lay’s® complaint alleges that the label states the product contains malic acid; although lmalic acid can be found naturally in fruits and vegetables, the plaintiffs assert, Frito-Lay adds d-1-malic acid—made from benzene and butane—to produce the sour flavor associated with vinegar. The Pringles® complaint alleges that Kellogg adds both d-1-malic acid and sodium diacetate, manufactured from carbon monoxide and industrial methanol, to flavor its potato chips. The plaintiff concedes that d-1-malic acid may be used under current Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) regulations but argues that the use of the general term “malic acid” deceives consumers.

Claiming violations of California consumer-protection laws and breach of warranty, the plaintiffs seek class certification, disgorgement, restitution, damages and attorney’s fees in both suits.