Nestlé Under Fire Over Misleading “No GMO Ingredients” Labeling

Nestlé is facing a proposed class action lawsuit alleging the company falsely labels certain products as containing “No GMO Ingredients”, when the in fact reportedly do.

Plaintiff Jennifer Latiff filed the Nestlé GMO class action lawsuit in California federal court last Friday. Latiff says that she purchased Nestlé products, specifically Lean Cuisine Marketplace frozen dinners and Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss creamer with the No GMO ingredients seal.

Many consumers are sensitive to genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in their food and want to avoid them for a variety of reasons, including GMOs’ possible negative impact on the environment. As a result, many consumers, like Latiff, try to purchase products that are not derived from GMOs.

In an attempt to meet consumers’ demand for non-GMO products, an industry of independent, third-party validation companies has developed. These independent companies review the ingredients in products to assure that the products either do not contain GMOs, or do not come from animals fed GMO food. Thus, obtaining the approval from an independent third party allows companies to obtain an advantage in the market place over their competitors, in order to sell more products and charge higher prices.

However, according the Nestlé GMO class action lawsuit, Nestlé falsely represents to consumers that these and other products it sells have been certified by an independent third party as not containing GMO ingredients by affixing a No GMO Ingredients seal on the products. Unfortunately, the 18-page complaint contends that the No GMO Ingredients seal is not from a neutral third party, but instead the work of Nestlé itself attempting to capitalize on the consumer demand for non-GMO products.

“Looking to profit off consumer desire for independently validated products, Defendant has created a deceptive No GMO IngredientsTM seal of approval label that mimics the Non-GMO Project seal,” the Nestlé GMO class action lawsuit states.

Moreover, the lawsuit alleges that the ingredients in certain Nestlé products are in fact derived from GMOS. For example, Nestlé products that contain dairy come from cows fed GMO grains – a violation of the Non-GMO Project standard, which does not allow for its seal of approval to be placed on dairy based products that could be from animals fed GMO feed.

As a result of this alleged deceptive labeling practice, consumers paid significantly more to purchase a non-GMO product to avoid possible health and environmental risks associated with GMO products. In bringing this proposed class action lawsuit, Latiff is hoping to end Nestlé’s alleged false representations and help consumers recover their money spent. She is seeking to represent a nationwide Class of consumers who purchased any of Nestlé’s products bearing the No GMO Ingredients seal label.

Latiff is represented by Michael R. Reese and George V. Granade of Reese LLP and Daniel L. Warshaw and Bobby Pouya of Pearson Simon & Warshaw LLP.

The Nestlé “No GMO” Labeling Class Action Lawsuit is Jennifer Latiff v. Nestlé USA Inc., Case No. 2:18-cv-06503, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division.

Nestle Pure Life Purified Bottled Water Contains Plastic Contaminants, Class Action Says

Nestle is facing a federal class action lawsuit alleging the food and beverage giant’s Pure Life Purified bottled water contains high levels of plastic contaminants, despite being marketed as being “Purified”.

Plaintiff Cindy Baker of Los Angeles says she was unaware of the true nature of Nestle Pure Life Purified bottled water when she purchased the drinking water for herself and her family. In bringing this class action lawsuit she hopes to hold Nestle responsible for its alleged deceptive advertising practices and misleading consumers in labeling their bottled drinking water as “pure” or “purified”.

“Defendants’ advertising, marketing, packaging, labeling and bottling is misleading, and misrepresents or omits important information to potential purchasers and consumers of Nestle Pure Life Purified bottled water,” the Nestle Pure Life Purified Bottled Water class action lawsuit states.

Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it was launching a review of the potential risks of plastic particles in certain bottled drinking water, including Nestle Pure Life Purified bottled water, after a study found high levels of tiny pieces of plastic in the samples tested. This testing and analysis was conducted at the State University of New York in Fredonia as a part of a project from the U.S.-based journalism organization, Orb Media. Of the tested bottled water brands, Nestle Pure Life Purified bottled water was found to contain high levels of plastic particles, with alarming rates of micro plastics per liter detected.

According to the Nestle Pure Life Purified Bottled Water class action lawsuit, the study found that Nestle Pure Life Purified bottled water contained various microplastics, including polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate. In one case, a bottle of Nestle Pure Life Purified bottled drinking water was found to contain more than 10,000 pieces of microplastics per liter of water.

Despite knowing that their bottled drinking water contained plastic particles, Nestle reportedly encouraged consumers to purchase Nestle Pure Life Purified bottled water and “intentionally, negligently and recklessly concealed and omitted the truth” about the quality and purity of its Pure Life Purified water.

Baker is seeking to represent four subclasses: California False Advertising, California Consumption, U.S. Purchase, and U.S. Consumption to include all persons who purchased Nestle Pure Life Purified bottled drinking water in the last four years.

Among monetary damages, the proposed class action lawsuit is asking the court to order Nestle to stop selling its Pure Life Purified bottled water since the bottled water.

Baker and the proposed Class are represented by Christopher J. Hamner, Evelina Serafini, and Manu J. Elloie of Hamner Law Offices APLC.

The Nestle Pure Life Purified Bottled Water Class Action Lawsuit is Baker et al. v. Nestle S.A., Case No. 18-cv-3097, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Chocolate Makers Hershey, Mars, Nestle Hit With Child Labor Class Action Lawsuits

Hershey, Mars, and Nestle USA are under fire in three child labor class action lawsuits claiming the chocolate manufacturers failed to disclose they use cocoa beans produced from forced child and slave labor.

According to the World Cocoa Foundation, nearly half of the total U.S. imports of cocoa beans come from the Ivory Coast region of West Africa, which is known for engaging in the worst forms of child labor in the harvesting of cocoa. Hershey, Mars, and Nestle all purchase and import their cocoa to make their chocolate products from this region.

Many consumers todays have become sensitive to the products they buy and responsible marketing, especially product labeling is of major concern. Plaintiff Danell Tomasella is one of them and she is taking on the big chocolate makers, hoping to hold them legally accountable for their role in supporting child and slave labor.

The child labor class action lawsuit goes to state that the Ivory Coast’s “cocoa sector employed an estimated 1,203,473 child laborers ages 5 to 17, of which 95.9 percent were engaged in hazardous work in cocoa production.” This work includes “burning and clearing fields with machetes, spraying pesticides, using sharp tools to break open cocoa pods, and carrying heavy loads of cocoa pods and water.”

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs of the U.S. Department of Labor also reports that over 4,000 of these children work in condition of forced labor to produce the chocolate we in the U.S. consume. Some children are sold to traffickers, some are kidnapped, and are held against their will on isolated farms. Many are subjected to physical abuse and denied food.

Since the majority of consumers are not aware of the human rights abuses in procuring cocoa beans, the child labor class action lawsuit contends that Hershey, Mars, and Nestle are obligated to provide disclosures to consumers at the point of sales regarding the existence of child and slave labor in their supply chain.

“At the retail location, a consumer reviewing the packaging for the [chocolate products] will find no disclosure that there is child and/or slave labor in the supply chain,” the child labor class action lawsuit states.

Instead Tomasella asserts that the chocolate makers are turning a blind eye to the actions of their suppliers and are not acting in a socially or ethically responsible manner.

“When these food companies fail to uphold their responsibility for ensuring the absence of child and slave labor in their supply chains, their misconduct has a profound consequence of supporting and encouraging such labor.”

Tomasella is seeking to represent all consumers who purchased Hershey, Mars, and Nestle chocolate products in Massachusetts since 2014.

Tomasella and the proposed classes are represented by Hannah W. Brennan, Steve W. Berman, and Elaine T. Byszewksi of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

The Hershey, Mars, and Nestle Child Labor Class Action Lawsuits are:

  • Tomasella et al. v. The Hershey Company, et al., Case No. 1:18-cv-10360
  • Tomasella et al. v. Nestle USA, et al., Case No. 1:18-cv-10269
  • Tomasella et al. v. Mars, Inc., et al., Case No. 1:18-cv-10359

All are filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.