Coca-Cola is facing a lawsuit over claims that its Simply Orange Juice contains toxic chemicals forever.
The lawsuit alleged that the product misled customers with allegations that it was an all-natural product.
Third-party testing allegedly found the juice contained PFAS, known as forever 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.
According to the lawsuit, the label stating that the juice is natural is misleading and deceptive.
Joseph Lurenz filed the complaint on December 28 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Coca-Cola Company and Simply Orange Juice Company.
WHAT ARE PFAS?
PFAS are man-made chemicals used as oil and water repellents and coatings for common products, including cookware, carpets and textiles.
These endocrine-disrupting chemicals do not break down when released into the environment and continue to accumulate over time.
PFAS chemicals can contaminate drinking water supplies near facilities where the chemicals are used.
PFAS contamination has been detected in water near manufacturing facilities, as well as military bases and firefighting training facilities where foam containing PFAS is used.
They also enter the food supply through food packaging materials and contaminated soil.
It said the company misrepresented their products by using terms such as “just natural,” “nothing to hide” and “all natural” on the labels, despite containing PFAS.
Mr. Lurenz believes the defendants knew the fruit juice contained dangerous chemicals that could pose a health risk, but failed to disclose the information to consumers.
He said, ‘In reality, [the] Plaintiff’s investigation has shown that the product contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”), a class of synthetic chemicals that are, by definition, not natural.”
The lawsuit said third-party testing revealed PFAS in the juice. Specific test results were not provided, but the lawsuit said levels were “hundreds of times” above federal limits for drinking water.
The limits, 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 read “made simple,” a claim the plaintiff denies.
It is currently unknown how PFAS chemicals could have contaminated the water used to make the juice, or if the chemicals could also be in the packaging.
PFAS chemicals are also found in items such as cookware and food packaging, often used for their non-stick, heat-resistant and water-resistant properties.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), PFAS are not easily broken down and can accumulate in our bodies and environment.
The same properties that make PFAS chemicals useful in products also make them dangerous for consumption — the chemicals’ ability to last a long time and break down slowly.
People can be exposed to PFAS in several ways, although water is considered the most important way.
However, PFAS are also found in air, fish and soil in locations around the world. Thousands of PFAS chemicals are used to make various products.
It is currently unknown how PFAS chemicals have contaminated the water used to make the juice, and whether the chemicals are also contained in the packaging
“As one of the most widely recognized brands in the world, The Coca-Cola Company knows the importance of marketing and labeling, including the value of the label images they carefully choose for placement on the product,” the complaint read.
The lawsuit alleges that the product’s brand name is designed to increase sales to unsuspecting consumers.
This is done by targeting health-conscious buyers who believe the orange juice is simply all-natural and free of synthetic ingredients, which the complaint claims are harmful to human consumption.
The tests were done independently to check for PFAS chemicals.
The plaintiff is seeking undisclosed monetary compensation for itself and the class action, along with compensation for damages and civil penalties to be imposed on the brand.
Drinking orange juice is often seen as beneficial to health, as the drink has been shown to reduce the risk of strokes by nearly a quarter, according to a study.
Many people drink orange juice when they have a cold, as it is known for its vitamin C content.