Bolthouse Farms Sued After Smoothie With ‘100% Fruit Juice’ Tests Positive for PFAS
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Bolthouse Farms, alleging the California-based beverage company misled customers by claiming that its Green Goodness smoothie consists of “100% Fruit Juice.” Testing found the beverage contains toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” at levels well above the federal advisory limits for drinking water.
According to plaintiff Gwendolyn Smith — who said she purchased the Green Goodness smoothie many times — she examined the product label, packaging and marketing information and thought the smoothies were safe and didn’t contain any harmful ingredients. Smith said Bolthouse Farms “engaged in pervasive marketing efforts” promoting its smoothies as natural, while they contained toxic PFAS, Top Class Actions reported.
PFAS are a class of about 12,000 chemicals used to make stain-, heat- and water-resistant products. They don’t break down naturally in the environment and have been associated with kidney and liver problems, cancer, autoimmune disorders and other complications.
The most common way to be exposed to PFAS is through the water supply, but food has also been found to be an increasingly common route of exposure, according to researchers, as reported by The Guardian.
“Plaintiff’s testing has revealed that the Product contains per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (“PFAS”), a category of synthetic chemicals that are, by definition, artificial,” the lawsuit states.
Experts say the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t done enough to protect people from exposure to PFAS through food, The Guardian reported.
“When FDA falters, the law firms that are out there are going to protect their clients because the FDA is not dealing with it,” said chemicals policy director with nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund Tom Neltner, as reported by The Guardian.
Bolthouse Farms had no response to requests for comment on the lawsuit.
Almost no level of exposure to the PFAS compound PFOS, which was found in the Bolthouse Farms smoothie, in drinking water is considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Testing also found the compounds 6:2 FTOH and PFHxS, which have been linked to a similar set of health concerns as PFOS.
It wasn’t clear how the toxic chemicals ended up in the Bolthouse Farms smoothie, but they may have come from PFAS-contaminated water, pesticides or fertilizer made from sewage sludge that then tainted the fruit, PFAS researchers told The Guardian. The smoothie could also have contained added water contaminated with the forever chemicals. It is also possible that the toxins leached into the drink through plastic packaging that contained PFAS, but experts have said if that were the case, the levels of PFAS would likely be a lot higher.
Neltner said that the class-action suit would be hard to win because exposure to PFAS is “a comparatively small harm to break down.”
However, he added, “It can spur legislative changes, and most of our early public knowledge of PFAS came from discovery in class-action lawsuits.”
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