Cheddar & Sour Cream Pop Ridges Accused of Misleading Consumers

John Salony filed a class-action complaint in the Southern District of New York on Sunday alleging that VMG Partners, LLC, the producers of Pop Chips, misled purchasers of its cheddar and sour cream chips by leading them to assume it was flavored with cheddar cheese and sour cream when, in reality, the chips had little or none of the two ingredients. 

The plaintiff argued that “consumers expect the designation of a food’s flavor to tell them information about the source of the flavor.” He explained that the product’s packaging shows representations of its two flavors, cheddar cheese and sour cream, on the packaging both by placing the words on the label and depicting a wedge of cheddar cheese and a bowl of sour cream. The suit alleged that this is misleading since the flavors do not primarily come from those ingredients. 

A bag of Pop Chips, taken from the complaint in the lawsuit.

Salony claimed that he and others in the putative class would “value ‘the real thing’ versus a close substitute and should be able to rely on the label to readily distinguish between the two.” The front label of the chips does not give any information about the flavors like a statement that it is naturally or artificially flavored, or contains “other natural flavors.” The complaint stated that “the absence of these terms causes consumers to infer the food has a sufficient amount of the characterizing ingredients to flavor the food.” 

The ingredient list for the chips reportedly states that it does contain cheddar cheese, but it also says “natural flavors.” The plaintiff said this shows that it contains added cheddar cheese flavor from other sources, which are used “because the amount of cheddar cheese in the Product is insufficient to independently provide a cheddar taste of the food.” This, according to cited laws, means that the flavors should be disclosed on the front label.  

According to the complaint, the ingredient list also does not say that the product contains sour cream, or its components cultured milk or cultured cream, leading to the assumption that the flavor comes from artificial ingredients. The plaintiff argued that consumers want real sour cream, as it has health benefits, like helping beneficial intestinal bacterial flora and reducing lactose intolerance, even when present in small amounts. 

Salony claimed that VMG Partners intentionally misled its consumers in order to sell its product at a premium price. He asked the court to certify the class, provide injunctive relief, and award monetary damages. 

The plaintiff is represented by Sheehan & Associates, P.C.