Kansas City, MO—Add Popchips, Inc. to the growing list of food companies that have settled class action lawsuits over the use of the terms “natural” or “all natural” in marketing. A proposed settlement has the brand set to fork over $2.4 million to a class action fund, after a lawsuit alleged its use of “all natural” in marketing and on packaging is misleading to consumers.
The case, Tonya Kelly, et al. v. Popchips, Inc., was brought in Jackson County, MO, by two individuals, Tonya Kelly and Brian Martens, and concerned more than just the “all natural” claim. The suit also cited the use of the term “healthier” and the phrases “no preservatives” and “no artificial flavors or colors,” saying that the brand’s products (styled popchips) are “highly processed, contain artificial and synthetic ingredients, including ingredients containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and contain too much fat to be labeled ‘healthier,’” according to the settlement notice.
The case is the latest in a line of similar ones involving prominent “natural” food brands from the likes of Trader Joe’s and PepsiCo, both of which agreed to multi-million dollar settlements within the last two years. None of these cases has yet reached the trial stage, with companies typically choosing to settle rather than incur legal costs. In each case, including popchips, the companies are allowed to deny any wrongdoing, while being required to establish a way for consumers to claim refunds. In this case, any U.S. citizen who purchased popchips between January 1, 2007 and November 14, 2013 is eligible for up to a $10.00 cash payment or up to $20.00 in popchip vouchers.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, April 2014