A federal class-action lawsuit in California claims Frito-Lay brands Tostitos and Sun Chips labeled as "all-natural" really aren't because they're made using corn and oil from genetically modified crops.
The suit, filed by the Milberg law firm of Los Angeles in U.S. District Court for Central California earlier this month, notes packaging and website advertising describing the products as all-natural and free of "artificial" or "synthetic" ingredients. Ads for Tostitos, for example, have cited the fact that they contain only three ingredients -- corn, salt and oil.
But the complaint, which seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of Frito-Lay consumers, notes that Monsanto Co., which pioneered development and distribution of genetically modified crops, defines them as having "genetic makeup altered to exhibit specific traits that are not naturally theirs."
In a statement, the PepsiCo unit said it's confident its packaging and advertising meets federal standards. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's definition of "organic" products excludes those with genetically modified ingredients, but no similar standard from the USDA or Food and Drug Administration applies to use of the term "natural."