By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – It is acceptable to sell French fries that are not made in France, but a new lawsuit says it is not acceptable to sell potato skin snack chips that are not made from potato skins.
A New York City woman on Wednesday sued TGI Fridays, in a proposed class action claiming that the company, known for its restaurants, misleads consumers by selling “Potato Skins” snacks that contain potato flakes and potato starch, but no skins.
The lawsuit by Solange Troncoso said the Idaho Potato Commission and others inside and outside the industry have associated potato skins with healthy eating since they started appearing on restaurant menus a half-century ago.
It said TGI Fridays’ misleading packaging for its bacon ranch, cheddar and bacon, and sour cream and onion potato skins snacks defrauded Troncoso and other consumers into purchasing an “inferior product,” either by mistake or at a “full” price.
“The presence of potato skins imparts a further value in the eyes of reasonable consumers,” according to the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, which seeks unspecified damages.
Troncoso said she sued after paying $1.99 last June for a bag of TGI Fridays Sour Cream & Onion Potato Skins at a convenience store in the borough of the Bronx, where she lives.
TGI Fridays did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The private equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners became majority owner of the Carrollton, Texas-based company in 2014.
In a Feb. 2017 Eater article cited in the complaint, Richard Melman, chairman of Chicago-based restaurant company Lettuce Entertain You, said he began serving potato skins in 1971 after his brother read how sailors ate them to stave off illness.
A spokeswoman for Melman declined to comment.
The case is Troncoso v TGI Friday’s Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-02735.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Marguerita Choy)