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Children's Health Defense, an organization founded and chaired by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., has filed a lawsuit alleging that Beech-Nut Nutrition Co. misrepresents its baby-food products as "100% natural" despite containing pesticide residues. Children's Health Def. v. Beech-Nut Nutrition Co., No. 2019 CA 4475 (D.C. Super. Ct., filed July 8, 2019). The organization alleges that Beech-Nut markets its products as "100% natural," which the company website apparently defines as "simple, all-natural ingredients from places that nurture their fruits and vegetables and care about their quality. We never use artificial preservatives—nobody really needs modified starch, salt or harsh spices, especially babies. … We're not a fan of pesticides; our internal standards are significantly stricter than federal requirements." The complaint asserts that an independent laboratory tested the products and found pesticide residues in several varieties. The organization alleges a cause of action under the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act and…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Tropicana Manufacturing Co. misrepresents its orange juice as "natural" because it contains a variation of malic acid that can be used as an artificial flavoring ingredient. Johnson v. Tropicana Mfg. Co. Inc., No. 19-1164 (S.D. Cal., filed June 20, 2019). The complaint, echoing similar actions filed by the same plaintiff's firm against other companies, alleges that the ingredient "malic acid" on the product's ingredient list is not the naturally occurring l-malic acid but rather d-l malic acid, which "is manufactured in petrochemical plants from benzene or butane—components of gasoline and lighter fluid, respectively—through a series of chemical reactions, some of which involve highly toxic chemical precursors and byproducts." The plaintiff alleges violations of California's consumer-protection laws and seeks class certification, restitution, damages, corrective advertising and attorney's fees.

A New Jersey federal court has denied class certification to a plaintiff challenging Tropicana's marketing representations of its juice as "pure" and "natural." In re Tropicana Orange Juice Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., No. 11-7382 (D.N.J., entered June 19, 2019). The court first denied certification for a New York class because the plaintiff only purchased Tropicana in California, then it turned to the requirement of predominance. "Plaintiff has not demonstrated that a uniform misrepresentation was made to the class sufficient to satisfy predominance as to the '100% pure and natural orange juice,' '100% pure,' '100% natural,' '100% juice' 'fresh,' 'grove to glass,' 'squeezed from fresh oranges,' 'straight-from-the-orange,' and Orange/Straw labels," the court found. "[T]he Court would be required to perform an individualized inquiry into each product purchased to determine what combinations of labels were visible before determining whether that combination is deceiving to a reasonable consumer. These variations are the…

A New York federal court has dismissed a putative class action alleging that celebrity chef Rachael Ray's brand of dog food, Rachael Ray Nutrish, is misleadingly marketed as "natural" because it contains traces of pesticides. Parks v. Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, LLC, No. 18-6936 (S.D.N.Y., entered April 18, 2019). The court found that the plaintiff could not show that trace amounts of a pesticide would make the marketing of a "natural" product misleading. The plaintiff "asserts that the Products contain trace amounts of glyphosate, but not that the Products are composed of unnatural ingredients," the court found. "Moreover, Plaintiff does not set forth in his complaint the amount of glyphosate in the Products or whether that amount is harmful or innocuous. He argues that '[if] glyphosate is in the Products at any level . . . then the Products cannot be called 'Natural.'' [] But a reasonable consumer would not be…

Consolidated litigation to determine whether Kind LLC misleads consumers by marketing its products as "all natural" and made without genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will continue after a two-year delay. In re Kind LLC "Healthy and All Natural" Litig., No. 15-2645 (S.D.N.Y., entered February 11, 2019). The court previously stayed the litigation in anticipation of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance documents on when the uses of "natural" and "non-GMO" are appropriate on food labeling. "Given that there is no reason to continue the stay on the 'non-GMO' claims and that neither party wishes to litigate the claims in piecemeal fashion, it makes sense to begin discovery," the court held. "Moreover, this Court explained that the case for lifting the 'all natural' stay would be 'substantially stronger' if the FDA failed to provide guidance by August 2018. Six months later, guidance is still awaited. It is time for this multi-district…

Two consumers have alleged that National Beverage Corporation misleads buyers of LaCroix sparkling water because it advertises the products as “all natural” and “100% natural” while they contain flavors composed of “between 36% and 98% synthetic ingredients.” Graham v. Nat’l Beverage Corp., No. 19-0873 (S.D.N.Y., filed January 29, 2019). The complaint cites the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia, which uses “compound specific stable isotope analysis [] and gas chromatography isotope ratio mass spectrometry to generate multi-component, multi-element data for the enhanced characterization of organic chemical processes and source validation.” The plaintiffs seek class certification, injunctions, damages and attorney’s fees for alleged violations of New York consumer-protection law, unjust enrichment and breach of warranties.

A consumer has filed a putative class action challenging La Lechonera Products Inc.'s "all natural" and "no preservatives" representations on its marinade packaging, alleging that the presence of citric acid and canola oil in the product preclude the company from making those marketing claims. Williams v. La Lechonera Prods. Inc., No. 2018-39361-CA-01 (Fla Cir. Ct., 11th Jud. Dist., filed November 26, 2018). The complaint asserts that canola oil and citric acid are substantially processed and synthetic ingredients. The plaintiff alleges that La Lechonera injured him and other consumers in 14 ways, including that the consumers "paid a sum of money for Products that were not as represented," "ingested a substance that Plaintiff and other members of the Class did not expect or consent to," "were denied the benefit of truthful food labels," and "were forced unwittingly to support an industry that contributes to environmental, ecological, and/or health damage." The plaintiff…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Mott's Applesauce and Apple Juice products are mislabeled as "natural" because they contain traces of an insecticide. Yu v. Dr Pepper Snapple Grp. Inc., No. 18-6664 (N.D. Cal., San Jose Div., filed November 1, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that reasonable consumers would not expect to find acetamiprid, a synthetic chemical, in a product labeled as "natural." The complaint echoes a similar lawsuit filed by Beyond Pesticides in May 2017; an amended complaint in that lawsuit was filed in October 2018.

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that several ingredients in LaCroix sparkling water, which is marketed as “always 100% natural,” are “non-natural flavorings and synthetic compounds.” Rice v. Nat’l Beverage Corp., No. 2018-CH-12302 (Ill. Cir. Ct., Cook Cty., filed October 1, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that the ingredients are synthetic and therefore cause consumers harm. “For instance, limonene causes kidney toxicity and tumors, linalool is used as a cockroach insecticide; and linalool propionate is used to treat cancer,” the complaint asserts. The complaint garnered significant media coverage, including in CBS News, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. A nutritional scientist reportedly told CBS News, “These compounds are found in nature, mostly in fruit such as oranges, limes, strawberries, pineapples, bananas….so we consume these compounds every day if we eat any kind of fruit.” In addition, Snopes noted, “The chemicals identified in the lawsuit [] are both safe…

A New York federal court has dismissed allegations from a putative class action arguing that Pret A Manger Ltd. sold sandwich wraps with excess slack fill between the wrap's halves. Lau v. Pret A Manger (USA) Ltd., No. 17-5775 (S.D.N.Y., entered September 28, 2018). The court held that the plaintiffs lacked standing for an injunction despite their argument that they would consider purchasing the wraps in the future, finding "no sufficient basis for inferring that plaintiffs would ever seek to purchase a Pret wrap again as long as the status quo persists." The court also disagreed with the plaintiffs' argument that the slack fill in the wraps amounted to an intent to defraud consumers. "Specifically, plaintiffs state that less than half, or 45 percent, or Pret wraps surveyed contained slack-fill," the court noted. "Drawing all reasonable inferences in plaintiffs' favor, the Court finds that the facts are insufficient to nudge…

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