Hint of lime or a hint of crime? Tostitos faces class-action lawsuit over its citrus flavored chips

The folks at the Frito Lay company may have been deceiving the American consumer for some time now according to debate over a possible violation of advertising laws.


The “Hint of Lime” version of the popular TOSTITOS® brand corn chips may not have a hint of anything but chemicals (and corn). A Fox News preview of a segment airing Friday night called “Night Court” highlighted the forthcoming class-action lawsuit against the food company, with attorneys Robert Patillo and Bob Bianchi present to debate the issue.

Civil rights attorney Patillo began the debate by saying that for many years, companies like Frito Lay have been using what is called puffery in order to give the appearance that their ingredients are more natural than what they actually are. He argued that customers need to be apprised more clearly of what they are putting in their bodies.

Exhibit A: “TOSTITOS® Hint of Lime Flavored Tortilla Chips are the TOSTITOS® Original Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips you love, with a zesty lime flavor to complement all your favorite dips. Your taste buds can’t help but dance a tangy salsa, so get dipping!”

Here are the ingredients: Corn, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola and/or Sunflower Oil), Maltodextrin (made from Corn), Salt, Sugar, Natural Flavors (including natural lime flavor), Dextrose, Sour Cream (Cultured Cream, Skim Milk), Corn Bran, Whey, Spice, and Yeast Extract.

(Video: Fox News)

The host asked Bianchi if he thought that it was false advertising, to which he replied, “Oh my God, if you don’t do a salsa after this, the world is going to come to an end.”

He added that courts have already ruled on the matter in the case of Jessani v. Monini.

Bianchi said the lawsuit was laughable on its face, especially since one of the chief complaints is that the corn chips are believed to be an “alternative health snack.” He feels consumers need to do a better job of reading labels before they consume any product. Another complaint enumerated in the suit asserts that the “Hint” should be more “appreciable.” But Bianchi said that one definition in Webster’s Dictionary reads that a hint is “a slight indication of the existence, approach, or nature of something.” (It does indeed say that).

He added that no consumer should believe they are eating a health food product just because it claims that a corn chip has lime in it.

The plaintiffs in the suit also allege that while there is a disclaimer on the front of the bag, it is very small and printed near the bottom edge which is never visible since the weight of the contents of the bag crumples the bottom edge.

Patillo argued that the disclaimer is insufficient and intentionally placed where it is difficult to see.

“I think we all need to know what we are eating. If it’s going to be lime-flavored, let us know it’s lime-flavored. If it’s going to be chemical-flavored, let us know it’s chemical-flavored,” he argued. “People will still eat it. We all eat kinds of stuff knowing it’s bad for us.”

Patillo said it’s unfortunate that it takes legislation to keep companies honest about what they put in their products.

Bianchi contended the lawsuit is going nowhere fast.

Do the plaintiffs have a point?

Or is the lawsuit frivolous and meaningless in an upside-down America?


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