Costco Wholesale Corporation faces a proposed class action that alleges its Kirkland Signature-brand Himalayan pink salt is mislabeled in that the product is sourced not from “the heart of the Himalayan Mountains” in India, but from Khewra, Pakistan.
According to the case, the label of Kirkland Signature Himalayan pink salt features a colonial-era map of the Indian subcontinent, Sanskrit graphics, text describing the product’s purported region of origin and “hues of pink, red and white” that indicate the salt’s “rich and varying mineral content.” The 13-page lawsuit contends, however, that while Costco’s marketing and advertising of the Kirkland Signature pink salt gives consumers the impression that the product is sourced from an area in India that borders Tibet and Nepal, appearing in fine print on the back of the packaging is the disclosure that the salt is “a Product of Pakistan.”
“While the Himalayan mountain range begins in Pakistan, the ‘heart of the Himalayan Mountains,’ are not in Pakistan, but in Kumaon, India,” the complaint argues.
The suit states that the sale of pink salt from the Himalayas has gained popularity in part because of the product’s ostensible restorative properties and nutrient content, which are “based in part on the unique geography” of the region. The salt’s pink color comes from its high levels of iron, and the product’s harvesting process means pink salt possesses “up to 84 nutrients and minerals” not found in regular salt, the lawsuit says. The apparent lack of impurities in pink salt also makes it a valued item, per the case.
The complaint contends that Costco’s label representation that Kirkland pink salt comes from the heart of the Himalayan Mountains” is misleading “because it expresses a geographical region which is not true.”
Moreover, the case says Kirkland Signature pink salt lacks any mineral or nutrient content, as indicated by the product’s nutrition facts panel.
“Reasonable consumers must and do rely on a company to honestly identify and describe the origins, components, attributes, and features of a product, relative to itself and other comparable products or alternatives,” the lawsuit reads.