Coca-Cola is facing a lawsuit over claims its Simply Orange Juice forever contains toxic chemicals.
The lawsuit alleged that the product deceived customers into claiming it was an all-natural product.
Third-party testing reportedly found the juice contained PFAS, known as perennial chemicals, at levels hundreds of times higher than federal limits for drinking water.
Exposure to high levels of PFAS can lead to an increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer, fetal complications, liver disease, and elevated cholesterol levels.
The label, which says the juice is natural, is said to be misleading and deceptive, according to the lawsuit.
Joseph Lurenz filed the lawsuit on December 28 in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Coca-Cola Company and the Simply Orange Juice Company.
WHAT ARE PFAS?
PFAS are man-made chemicals used as oil and water repellants and coatings for common products such as cookware, carpets and textiles.
These endocrine disrupting chemicals do not degrade when released into the environment and they continue to accumulate over time.
PFAS chemicals can contaminate drinking water supplies near facilities where the chemicals are used.
PFAS contamination has been identified in water near manufacturing sites, military bases and fire service training facilities where foam containing PFAS is used.
They also enter the food supply through food packaging materials and contaminated soil.
The company misrepresented its products, using terms such as “simply natural,” “nothing to hide,” and “all natural” on its labels, even though it contained PFAS.
Mr Lurenz believes the defendants knew the fruit juice contained dangerous chemicals that can pose a health risk, but failed to share the information with consumers.
He said, “Really [the] Plaintiff’s testing revealed that the product contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (‘PFAS’), a category of synthetic chemicals that are not, by definition, natural.’
The lawsuit said third-party tests revealed PFAS in the juice. Specific test results weren’t provided, but the lawsuit said the levels were “a hundred times” higher than federal limits for drinking water.
The limit values, which were tightened last summer, are 0.02 ppt for PFOS and 0.004 ppt for PFOA.
The juice is marketed as all-natural and carries labels that say “made easy,” a claim that the plaintiff refutes.
It is currently unknown how PFAS chemicals could have contaminated the water used for juicing and whether the chemicals could also have been in the packaging.
PFAS chemicals are also found in items like cookware and food packaging, often used for their non-stick, heat and water resistance.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), PFAS are not easily broken down and can build up in our bodies and environment.
The same properties that make PFAS chemicals helpful in products also make them dangerous for consumption – the chemicals’ ability to be persistent and slow to degrade.
Humans can be exposed to PFAS in a number of ways, although water is believed to be the main route.
However, PFAS are also found in the air, fish and soil in places around the world. There are thousands of PFAS chemicals used to make various products.
It is currently unknown how PFAS chemicals contaminated the water used for juicing and if the chemicals are also present in the packaging
“As one of the most recognized brands in the world, The Coca-Cola Company recognizes the importance of marketing and labelling, including the value of the label artwork it carefully selects for placement on the product,” the complaint reads.
The lawsuit alleges that the product’s brand name is designed to increase sales to unsuspecting consumers.
It does so by appealing to health-conscious shoppers who believe the orange juice is simply all-natural and free of synthetic ingredients harmful for human consumption, according to the complaint.
The tests were conducted independently to check for PFAS chemicals.
The plaintiff is seeking undisclosed monetary compensation for itself and the class action lawsuit, as well as a claim for damages and civil penalties to be assessed against the brand.
Drinking orange juice is often thought to be good for your health, as the drink reduces the risk of stroke by almost a quarter, according to one study.
Many people drink orange juice when they have a cold as it is known for its vitamin C content.