A proposed class action lawsuit was filed this month against Weleda, Inc., claiming it deceives health-conscious consumers by falsely labeling its personal care products as “Natural” or “Certified Natural” when they actually contain synthetic ingredients.
According to the suit, Weleda centers its marketing and advertising around these “natural” claims – leading the most reasonable consumers to believe the products do not contain synthetic substances.
The case argues, however, that many of Weleda’s “natural” facial care, body care, and baby care products do, in fact, contain a slew of synthetic ingredients.
Natural vs. Synthetic – What’s the Big Deal?
According to the complaint, Congress has defined "synthetic" to mean “a substance that is formulated or manufactured by a chemical process or by a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from naturally occurring plants, animals, or mineral sources.”
“Natural” substances, on the other hand, are not chemically altered from their original state, the complaint claims. Consumers are willing to spend more on products made with natural ingredients because they are believed to be healthier and safer to use than synthetic products. The suit argues that Weleda has “capitalized” on this desire by falsely claiming on labels that its products are “natural” to entice consumers into not only buying the products, but paying a premium price for them.
Which Ingredients Are in Question?
The complaint claims at least 19 synthetic substances are found in Weleda’s products. It notes the following information about some of the ingredients:
Citric acid – Despite its name, citric acid is not made from citrus fruits, but “industrially manufactured by fermenting certain genetically mutant strains of the black mold fungus.”
Xanthan gum – “A 2012 article in the Journal of Pediatrics noted that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued warnings that products containing xanthan gum have been linked to illness and death in infants.”
Tocopherol (Acetate) – an ingredient used in pesticides
Sodium chloride – a “hazardous” chemical substance
Among these, the complaint also claims that lactic acid, stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol, citronellol, calcium chloride, benzyl benzoate, and zinc oxide are found in Weleda’s products.
Which Products Are Affected?
The following products are named in the lawsuit:
Weleda Men Active Shower Gel
Weleda Calendula Toothpaste
Weleda Pomegranate Creamy Body Wash
Weleda Rose Soap Case
Weleda Calendula Soap
Weleda Arnica Sports Shower Gel
Weleda Evening Primrose Age Revitalizing Body Oil
Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil
Weleda Evening Primrose Age Revitalizing Body Lotion
Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Body Lotion
Weleda Sea Buckthorn Replenishing Body Lotion
Weleda Wild Rose Pampering Body Lotion
Weleda Citrus Hydrating Body Lotion
Weleda Skin Food – Small
Weleda Evening Primrose Age Revitalizing Hand Cream
Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Hand Cream
Weleda Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream
Weleda Sea Buckthorn Creamy Body Wash
Weleda Citrus Creamy Body Wash
Weleda Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash
Weleda Evening Primrose Revitalizing Body Wash
Weleda Children’s Tooth Gel
Weleda Salt Toothpaste
Weleda Plant Gel Toothpaste
Weleda Ratanhia Toothpaste
Weleda White Mallow Diaper Rash Cream
Weleda Calendula Diaper Rash Cream
Weleda Calendula Body Cream
Weleda Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash
Weleda Calendula Cream Bath
Weleda Calendula Body Cream
Weleda Calendula Body Lotion
Weleda Calendula Face Cream
Weleda Calendula Body Oil
Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil
Weleda Oat Replenishing Shampoo
Weleda Wheat Balancing Shampoo
Weleda Millet Nourishing Shampoo
Weleda Oat Replenishing Conditioner
Weleda Oat Replenishing Treatment
Weleda Rosemary Conditioning Hair Oil
The suit is seeking monetary relief for proposed class members and injunctive relief against Weleda to prohibit it from continuing its “deceptive” labeling practices.