Burt’s Bees Class Action Challenges Güd Brand Products ‘Natural’ Labeling

A new false advertising class action lawsuit is taking Burt’s Bees to task alleging that the company’s Güd brand products are not as “natural” as their labels state.

Plaintiff Michael Cesarini filed the class action lawsuit in California federal court last week against Burt’s Bees and the Clorox Company asserting claims for numerous violations of the state’s consumer protection laws. Cesarini says that contrary to the prominent “natural” labeling on Güd brand products, the products contain a slew of unnatural and synthetic ingredients, including Phenoxyethanol and Xanthan Gum.

In today’s health conscious society, many consumers today have no problem paying more for products that are labeled as “natural” over ordinary products that are synthetic. Beauty products labeled as “natural” often lead consumers to believe the ingredients are safer and better for their skin.

Cesarini himself details in the Burt’s Bees class action lawsuit that he made several purchases of Burt’s Bees Güd brand products, relying on the front of product packaging stating the product was “natural”. He notes that had he known that Burt’s Bees Güd brand products contained synthetic chemicals, he would not have purchased them.

According to the 25-page complaint, the front label of every Güd brand product states prominently in lettering the words “Natural.” Pictures in the complaint further detail the products’ front packaging where the word “natural” is featured.

“Based on the language that appears on the front of each Product, Plaintiff reasonably believed the Güd products only contained natural ingredients,” the Burt’s Bees class action lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also points out the FTC has even issued warnings to companies about the use of the term “natural” for marketing purposes, stating that companies must be able to substantiate whatever claims they are trying to convey to reasonable consumers. In layman’s terms, if a consumer can interpret the word natural” on a product’s label to mean that it contains no artificial ingredients, well then, the company needs to be able to back that up.

Likewise, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that any “natural” labeling on cosmetics must be “truthful and not misleading.” As such, the Burt’s Bees class action lawsuit contends that the “defendant’s representation that the Products are ‘natural’ is unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent conduct, and is likely to deceive members of the public.”

Cesarini seeks to represent a nationwide class of consumers who purchased Burt’s Bees Güd brand products as well as a subclass of California consumers. The class action lawsuit is asking for an award of statutory, compensatory, treble, and punitive damages, along with an order for injunctive relief that enjoins the defendants from falsely advertising their product as natural.

Cesarini and the proposed classes are represented by L. Timothy Fisher, Joel D. Smith, Yeremey O. Krivoshey, and Thomas A. Reyda of Bursor & Fisher PA and Reuben D. Nathan of Nathan & Associates APC.

The Burt’s Bees False Advertising Class Action Lawsuit is Michael Cesarini et al. v. The Clorox Company and The Burt’s Bees Products Company, Case No. 4:18-cv-00208, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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