- Popchips has agreed to settle a class action suit over “natural” claims on its packaging, though the company denies all allegations.
- Along with ceasing the use of such terms on packaging, the company will set up a fund of $2.1 million in cash and $300,000 in Popchip vouchers to compensate all customers included in the suit.
- The suit brought by Tonya Kelly and Brian Martens alleged that the snacks bear descriptions like “natural,” “all natural,” or “no artificial flavors or colors” when, in fact, they are highly processed and contain numerous artificial and synthetic ingredients, including some with GMOs.
- Class Members of the Popchips settlement include anyone in the U.S. who bought certain “Popchips” products between Jan. 1, 2007, and Nov. 14, 2013. Those who submit a claim form by July 7, 2014, may receive up to $10 in cash or $20 in Popchips vouchers.
The Popchips settlement represents a trend that has arisen for customers to sue companies that market their products with words like “natural.” Customers assert that they have a right to assume the foods that make the claim live up to their expectations of what "natural" means to them. If they feel they’ve been duped, they will fight back. As we’ve seen here before, using a label like “all natural” comes close to inviting a lawsuit.
Although no companies have lost such lawsuits yet, the settlement costs for those who don’t want to drag on to trial can be quite substantial. Earlier this month, Trader Joe’s arrived at a settlement of $3.4 million over “all natural” claims for its products, Pepsico’s settlement last year over natural claims on Naked Juice amounted to $9 million, and Cargill had to spend $5 million for its claims that Truvia is “natural.”
You would think that companies would start being more careful about the wording on their labels and try to learn from the mistakes of others.