A proposed class action lawsuit out of California takes issue with Barlean’s allegedly misleading marketing of its coconut oil products as a healthy alternative to butter and other cooking oils. The case claims Barlean’s Organic Oils, LLC, no stranger to deceptive advertising litigation, represents its products as “uniquely healthy saturated fats” when coconut oil “is actually inherently unhealthy, and a less healthy option” to alternatives.
According to the case, Barlean’s praises coconut oil as “Nature’s Most Versatile Superfood” that, as part of “healthy eating,” “boosts the metabolism, supports the heart and immune system and provides quick energy.” In reality, the suit argues, coconut oil is high in saturated fat and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Citing several studies, the lawsuit claims coconut oil “appears to consistently elevate plasma cholesterol” and has an even worse effect on consumers’ health than butter or other fats.
The case argues that Barlean’s, as part of its alleged “scheme,” makes “unauthorized” claims regarding its products’ nutrient content, including that they are “cholesterol free” and contain “no trans fat,” without complying with the FDA’s requirements for nutrient claims.
“Barlean’s is well aware of consumer preference for healthful foods,” the complaint reads, “and therefore employs, and has employed, a strategic marketing campaign intended to convince consumers that the Barlean’s Coconut Oil Products are healthy.”
The three named plaintiffs in the case say they would not have purchased Barlean’s coconut oil products had they known the truth about its health effects.