A proposed class action lawsuit says supposedly all-natural Simply Tropical juice is falsely advertised since it contains harmful synthetic substances known as “forever chemicals.”
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The 45-page lawsuit says that testing of Simply Tropical juice has revealed that the product contains per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), man-made chemicals known to be harmful to humans and the environment. The suit states that PFAS are harmful at even very low levels due to their propensity to persist and accumulate over time.
The case, filed in the Southern District of New York on December 28, 2022, stresses that the makers of Simply Tropical juice, the Coca-Cola Company and The Simply Orange Juice Company, have “tireless[ly]” marketed the product as “natural” and made with simple ingredients, in a manner intentionally targeted toward health-conscious consumers. According to the lawsuit, the presence of harmful PFAS in Simply Tropical juice is “entirely inconsistent” with Coca-Cola and the Simply Orange Juice Company’s “all-natural,” “nothing to hide” positioning of the product.
“The Product does not disclose the presence of PFAS—or any other synthetic chemical—in their ingredients,” the complaint summarizes. “Rather, Defendants claim the only ingredients are filtered water, fruit juice and puree, cane sugar, and natural flavors.”
As the case tells it, the defendants lean heavily on “natural” and “simple” representations on the Simply Tropical juice packaging, using the word “simply” to reinforce the belief that the drink is free from artificial ingredients. On the back-panel ingredients list, the companies list first “filtered water,” which, according to the suit, leads reasonable consumers to believe that “additional care has been taken to remove any incidental chemicals or impurities.”
Further, the Simply Tropical juice website is replete with “health-focused representations,” reassuring consumers that the product is a healthy choice made with simple ingredients, the case says. The defendants’ broader marketing campaign is, moreover, “designed to appeal to younger consumers” by touting the juice as “a total beverage solution” and a “simple” food product, the suit alleges.
According to the lawsuit, PFAS, known more commonly as “forever chemicals,” have been associated with myriad negative health effects, including reproductive and fertility issues, developmental effects or delays in children, increased risk of some cancers, and immune system harm.
The complaint charges that the Coca-Cola Company and the Simply Orange Juice Company are well aware of consumers’ desire to steer clear of potentially harmful chemicals, and with that in mind, have engaged in a widespread marketing campaign touting Simply Tropical juice as “natural.”
The plaintiff, a New York consumer, sought independent third-party testing to determine whether Simply Tropical juice contained PFAS, the suit shares. According to the case, the testing commissioned by the plaintiff “detected material levels” of forever chemicals in the Simply Tropical juice, including “concerning” levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), two of the “most well-studied types of PFAS.”
The lawsuit says the plaintiff’s testing revealed that Simply Tropical juice contained PFOA and PFOS in amounts “more than 100 times the [Environmental Protection Agency’s] recommended levels.”
“Thus, Defendant’s [sic] Product exposes hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting consumers, many of whom are children, to toxic synthetic chemicals at levels far beyond what the EPA deems safe, in direct contradiction to their uniform representations,” the suit scathes.