A proposed class action alleges Stop & Shop’s Nature’s Promise-brand “high potency” fish oil is not actually fish oil since the product allegedly undergoes a chemical synthesis process prior to sale that strips it of essential constituent components.
The 13-page complaint relays that although Stop & Shop represents that its Nature’s Promise “high potency” fish oil contains 448 mg of EPA and 308 mg of DHA, the product, in truth, contains neither of the essential omega-3 fatty acids due to a manufacturing process called trans-esterification.
According to the suit, trans-esterification was developed decades ago as a way to synthesize the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in an ethyl ester chemical form so as to increase product yields and allow for lower-quality fish oils to be used as starting materials. This chemical process, which involves breaking down the glycerol backbone of each triglyceride molecule in fish oil, also strips fish oil of “hundreds of its constituent components,” including the all-important, naturally found DHA and EPA omega-3s, the case alleges.
What’s left in fish oil after trans-esterification are called “omega-3 fatty acid ethyl esters” that are molecularly distinct from their precursor DHA and EPA molecules and not found in nature, the lawsuit says. Ultimately, the trans-esterification process alters the natural ratios of DHA and EPA in Stop & Shop’s Nature’s Promise fish oil in a way that runs contrary to global standards in place to prevent lower-quality products from misleading consumers, the lawsuit alleges.
“The United States Pharmacopeia (‘USP’), the Codex Alimentarius Committee and the Global Organization for EPA and DHA omega-3s (‘GOED’), all distinguish between fish oil and trans-esterified products,” the case says. “The Product’s representations are false, deceptive, and misleading, based on its EPA and DHA claims, and its purported common and unusual name of ‘Fish Oil.’”
Moreover, the lawsuit claims Stop & Shop’s representation that its Nature’s Promise fish oil is of “high potency” is also misleading in that it fails to indicate a reference such that consumers can have an idea of its potency in comparison to another product.
Overall, the case contends that a reasonable consumer would expect Nature’s Promise fish oil to be fish oil containing the amount and quality of the components indicated on its label. Consumers would be unaware that the product undergoes chemical processing that renders it distinct from fish oil, the suit says, claiming the value of the product is “materially less” than represented by Stop & Shop.
“By labeling the Product in this manner, Defendant gained an advantage against other companies, and against consumers seeking to purchase a product expected to be fish oil, contain the amount of compounds promised, and have a high potency,” the case reads.
The lawsuit looks to represent consumers in New York who bought Stop & Shop’s fish oil within the statutes of limitations periods.
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