Whole Foods Class Action Alleges Hypoallergenic Products Are Falsely Labeled

Whole Foods has been hit with a new proposed class action lawsuit alleging the upscale grocery chain misled customers who purchased personal care products advertised to be hypoallergenic but actually contained known allergens and other skin irritants.

Filed Tuesday in California federal court by two shoppers, the lawsuit contends that Whole Foods knowingly sold products that contained a “shocking array of compounds known to cause allergic response” despite marketing the personal care products as “hypoallergenic”. The lawsuit alleges that Whole Foods acted with intent in order to profit from the rising demand for hypoallergenic products.

“By deceiving consumers about the nature, quality, and/or ingredients of its products, WF is able to command a premium price, increasing consumers’ willingness to pay and take away market share from competing products, thereby increasing its own sales and profits,” the Whole Foods Hypoallergenic Labeling class action lawsuit alleges.

Plaintiff Shosha Kellman says she regularly purchased Whole Food’s 365 Gentle Skin Cleanser every four to six months over a period of 2 years, relying upon the label stating the product was hypoallergenic. However, she says her and her family members have all suffered skin and eye irritation, dermatitis, and other allergic reactions.

Similarly, Plaintiff Abigail Starr claims she bought Whole Food’s 365 Moisturizing Lotion, 365 Bubble Bath, 365 Facial Tissue, and 365 Paper Towels, believing the products were truthfully labeled as hypoallergenic. Starr claims her and her family have also suffered similar allergic reactions to Kellman.

“These products also contain a plethora of other compounds known to cause severe skin corrosion, serious eye damage, or are otherwise toxic or hazardous in the case of skin contact,” the lawsuit states. “However, despite its marketing scheme, WF’s products are chock-full of known skin sensitizers (allergens), agents that cause serious skin damage, chemicals that cause serious eye damage lasting longer than 21 days, skin irritants, and eye irritants.”

Both plaintiffs assert had they known at the time that these products were not hypoallergenic as promised, they would have opted to not purchase them.

Kellman and Starr filed the complaint on behalf of a proposed class of New York and California consumers who purchased the following allegedly mislabeled products:

  • 365 Baby Foaming Wash
  • 365 Baby Lotion
  • 365 Baby Shampoo
  • 365 Bubble Bath
  • 365 Gentle Skin Cleanser
  • 365 Kids’ Foaming Wash
  • 365 Maximum Moisture Body Lotion
  • 365 Moisturizing Lotion
  • Whole Foods Market Baby Laundry Detergent
  • Whole Foods Market Organic Laundry Detergent
  • Wild Kratts Bubble Bath
  • Wild Kratts Kids Foaming Body Wash

They are bringing claims for violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law, California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and New York’s Business Law, among other state laws.

Stephanie R. Tatar of Tatar Law Firm APC, Yvette Golan of The Golan Firm, James A. Francis and David A. Searles of Francis & Mailman PC, and Samuel J. Strauss of Turke & Strauss LLP are representing the plaintiffs and proposed Class.

The Whole Foods Hypoallergenic Labels Class Action Lawsuit is Kellman, et al. v. Whole Foods Market Inc., Case No. 3:17-cv-06584-LB, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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