Kettle Brand Potato Chips Contain Synthetic Ingredients, Class Action Says

The maker of Kettle brand potato chips is once again under fire over allegations its potato chips are falsely labeled as being “Made with Natural Ingredients” and containing “No Preservatives”.

Plaintiff Denise Mason filed the false advertising class action lawsuit against Diamond Foods in New York federal court this week, claiming its Kettle brand potato chips are falsely labeled as being made with natural ingredients and without preservatives, when in fact they contain the synthetic preservative citric acid.

Consumers have become increasingly conscious in purchasing less processed foods free of additives and are willing to pay more for products that are made with natural ingredients and are free of preservatives. The Kettle brand potato chips class action lawsuit says that Diamond Foods has opted to mislead consumers as to the true nature of their products in order to capitalize on this consumer health trend.

Specifically, the Kettle brand potato chips products at issue in this class action lawsuit include:

  • Organic Sea Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips
  • Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper Krinkle Cut Potato Chips
  • Backyard Barbeque Potato Chips
  • Chili Lime Potato Chips
  • Buffalo Bleu Krinkle Cut Potato Chips
  • Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips
  • Pepperoncini Potato Chips
  • Tropical Salsa Potato Chips
  • Fiery Thai Potato Chips
  • Country Style Barbeque Potato Chips
  • Honey Dijon Potato Chips
  • New York Cheddar Potato Chips

Mason claims that the “No Preservatives” labeling deceives consumers into believing that they are receiving healthier, preservative-free potato chips. Similarly, the “Made with Natural Ingredients” representations are misleading because the Kettle brand potato chips reportedly contain the preservative citric acid – a synthetic compound produced from certain strands of the black mold fungus Aspergillus niger, which is mass produced – as well as the chemical solvent sulfuric acid.

According to the Kettle brand potato chips class action lawsuit, Mason claims she relied on Diamond Foods’ labeling and had she and other consumers known the truth, they would not have purchased the Kettle brand potato chips.

Additionally, the complaint notes that “consumers cannot discover the true nature of the Products from reading the label” and that “discovery of the true nature of the content of the Products requires knowledge of chemistry that is not available to the average reasonable consumer.”

This is not the first time Diamond Foods has been accused of falsely marketing Kettle brand potato chips. In 2015, the company settled a similar class action lawsuit alleging its Kettle brand potato chips were falsely labeled as being “natural” or “preservative-free”.

In bringing this false advertising class action lawsuit, Mason is seeking to represent a nationwide Class of consumers who purchased the Kettle brand potato chip products, along with a New York subclass. She is asking for an order requiring “proper, complete, and accurate labeling of the Products,” as well as monetary and punitive damages.

Mason is represented by Michael J. Gabrielli of Gabrielli Levitt LLP

The Kettle Brand Potato Chips False Advertising Class Action Lawsuit is Denise Mason v. Diamond Foods LLC d/b/a Kettle Foods Inc., Case No. 1:18-cv-06423-GHW, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Volkswagen Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Brake Safety Systems Don’t Work

Volkswagen has been hit with a class action lawsuit for allegedly misrepresenting the brake safety systems in nearly 100,000 of its 2016 and 2017 models, including the Jetta, Passat, and several Golf vehicles.

Plaintiff Michael D’Amore brought the class action complaint against Volkswagen in state court back in April, but the case was recently transferred to federal court. D’Amore is challenging Volkswagen’s alleged deceptive representations and omission regarding the brake safety systems of its 2016 and 2017 vehicles sold in California.

According to the Volkswagen Brake Safety System class action lawsuit, D’Amore purchased a 2017 Passat specifically because it contained safety features that provided for autonomous braking at speeds over 25 miles per hour. In fact, upon purchasing his 2017 Passat, D’ Amore was given and read the owner’s manual for his new vehicle which contained a representation that the 2017 Passat has high-speed autonomous braking system as a standard feature. But, while driving his 2017 Passat in excess of 25 mph, D’Amore contends he did not experience any warning – visual or auditory – nor did his vehicle engage in any autonomous braking.

Volkswagen has represented itself as one of the safest automobile brands manufacturing and selling vehicles in America. “It brakes when you don’t,” was a pledge made in commercials to American consumers when Volkswagen tried to sell its 2016 models. Volkswagen represented that its 2016 and 2017 models contained two technology systems: Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (the “Systems”) and campaigned to capitalize on safety concerns of consumers, including those with children, the lawsuit indicates.

“Despite these representations, at no point in 2016 or 2017 did these brake safety systems properly work at speeds over 18 miles per hour. Not only did Volkswagen’s misrepresentation of the brake safety systems diminish the value of its 2016 and 2017 vehicles, Volkswagen endangered the owners and drivers who relied on the safety technology promised, warranted and sold in its 2016 and 2017 vehicles.”

D’Amore claims he, and other consumers, were duped by Volkswagen, contending that the vehicles never had such safety technology and that Volkswagen knew it. Volkswagen’s alleged knowledge of this defect, is based, in part, on the results of published unbiased testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Based on IIHS testing, not one of the tested Volkswagen cars had any high-speed auto-brake technology that would reduce speed in a meaningful way, when the vehicle was traveling over 25 miles per hour. For instance, as reported by the IIHS, the 2016 and 2017 Passat speed was reduced by 0 miles per hour when the Passat was traveling at 25 miles per hour.

The Volkswagen Brake Safety class action lawsuit goes on to state that he, and other Volkswagen car owners, would not have purchased the vehicles, or would have paid substantially less had they known the safety systems did not properly operate. D’Amore seeks to represent a Class of all current and former owners of the following Volkswagen vehicles who reside in the State of California and/or who purchased or leased the vehicles listed below in California:

  • 2016 Golf, GolfGTI, GolfR, e-Golf, GolfSportWagen
  • 2016 CC
  • 2016 Jetta
  • 2016 Passat
  • 2017 Golf, GolfGTI, GolfR, e-Golf, Golf Alltrack, GolfSportWagen
  • 2017 CC
  • 2017 Jetta
  • 2017 Passat

D’Amore is represented by Ari E. Moss of Moss Bollinger LLP and Mary Niefert and Anoiel Khorshid of Niefert Korshid APLC.

The Volkswagen Brake Safety System Class Action Lawsuit is D’Amore et al. v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Case No. 18-cv-5682, in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Ben & Jerry’s Class Action Says Ice Cream Comes From “Inhumane Dairy Farms”

Ben & Jerry’s is being called to task over allegations its ice cream isn’t actually humanely sourced from “happy cows” as their advertising and packaging claims.

The Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit public interest organization filed the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream class action lawsuit earlier this month, alleging that the ice cream products are sourced from inhumane dairy farms and some of the products contain traces of environmentally harmful biocide. OCA was formed in 1998 and deals with crucial issues of truth in advertising, accurate food labeling, food safety, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, environmental sustainability, and related topics.

According to the lawsuit, Unilever – the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s – markets its ice cream products as being made from milk produced by “happy cows” raised in “Caring Dairies”. Consumers are being led to believe that the ice cream they are purchasing and consuming is made using animal-raising practices that more humane than those used on regular factory-style, mass-production dairy operations, the complaint contends.

Additionally, the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream class action lawsuit states that Unilever portrays that their ice cream products are produced in an environmentally responsible manner, claiming their ice cream products “respect the Earth and the Environment,’ are made with ‘values-led sourcing,’ and are part of ‘Ben & Jerry’s […] long history of fighting for climate justice and finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of our business.”

However, in contrast to Unilever’s representations about climate justice and reducing environmental impact, some of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream products contain glyphosate, a synthetic biocide suspected, including by consumers, to have detrimental environmental effects, the complaint alleges. Some of the varieties of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream alleged to have tested positive glyphosate or its byproducts are:

  • Peanut Butter Cup
  • Peanut Butter Cookie
  • Phish Food
  • The Tonight Dough
  • Half Baked
  • Chocolate Fudge Brownie
  • Americone Dream; and
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

It is common now for consumers to consider how their food is produced and the effects of that production on animals and the environment. As a result, demand has increased for products that provide assurances regarding animal welfare and also for “green” products – that is, products that are farmed and processed using environmentally responsible practices. Consumers, as Unilever knows, are willing to pay more for products marketed this way and capitalize on this demand deceptively, the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream class action lawsuit asserts.

“By deceiving consumers about the nature, quality, and/or ingredients of the Products, Unilever is able to sell a greater volume of the Products, to charge higher prices for the Products, and to take away market share from competing products, thereby increasing its own sales and profits.”

OCA is seeking declaratory relief in the form of an order declaring Unilever’s conduct to be unlawful, as well as and injunctive relief calling for the company to include a full and clear disclosure of how its ice cream is sourced and the presence of glyphosate in its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. They are bringing this deceptive advertising lawsuit on behalf of its members and the general public.

The Organic Consumers Association is represented by Kim. E. Richman of Richman Law Group.

The Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Class Action Lawsuit is Organic Consumers Association v. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., Case No. Unknown, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Civil Division.

V8 Splash Class Action Lawsuit Says Fruit Juice is Nothing But Sugar Water

Campbell Soup Company is facing allegations that it falsely advertised its V8 Splash juice beverages and healthy and natural, when according to a consumer class action lawsuit, they actually contain “massive amounts of refined sugar.”

Many consumers seek out natural food products and are willing to pay a lot more for these products when compared to food and beverages that are artificially flavored. Plaintiff Hortense Sims is one such consumer and was surprised to learn that the V8 Splash she purchased on multiple occasions since 2014 wasn’t as healthy as she was led to believe.

In order to hold Campbell accountable for allegedly falsely advertising its juice drink, Sims filed the V8 Splash class action lawsuit earlier this month in California federal court. She asserts claims that the juices are misbranded and falsely convey to the consumer that they are healthy, natural beverages brimming with healthful fruit and vegetable juices. This, Sims contends, is not the case at all and that Campbell’s is actually selling artificially-flavored sugar water labeled as if it were fruit juice.

According to the 28-page complaint, V8 Splash drinks, including “Berry Blend” and “Strawberry Kiwi” actually consist of 95 percent water and high fructose corn syrup with minimal amounts of reconstituted carrot juice added for color and texture, and 2 percent or less of all fruits and berries the drinks are named for combined.

For instance, the “Tropical Blend” V8 Splash drink contains 18 grams of sugar per serving – more than Grape Kool-Aid. Additionally, the V8 Splash class action lawsuit says that Campbell’s covers up the near-absence of actual fruit juice in the beverages by adding in artificial flavoring and then concealing this fact from consumers.

“Defendants’ packaging, labeling, and advertising scheme is intended to give consumers the impression that they are buying a premium, ‘all natural’ product with natural flavoring ingredients instead of a product that is artificially flavored,” the V8 Splash class action lawsuit states.

Sims goes on to point out that V8 Splash is advertised as a good source of Antioxidant Vitamins A and C. However, the amount of refined sugar in V8 Splash actually depleted the body of antioxidants and blocks vitamin and mineral absorptions and healthful benefits.

Sims is seeking to represent a proposed Class of all California consumers who purchased V8 Splash drinks in California on or after January 1, 2012 for personal use. She is asking the court to award restitution and punitive damages and order Campbell Soup Company to conduct corrective advertising and stop its deceptive advertising of V8 Splash.

Sims and the proposed Class are represented by Ronald A. Marron and Michael T. Houchin of the Law Offices of Ronald A. Marron.

The V8 Splash False Advertising Class Action Lawsuit is Hortense Sims v. Campbell Soup Company, et al., Case No. 5:18-cv-00668, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.