If a product is titled “Simply Orange Juice” and advertised as “all natural,” you would reasonably expect that it contained freshly-squeezed orange juice, water and little else. You certainly wouldn’t expect it to contain unsafe levels of toxic forever chemicals linked to health ailments from immunosuppression to reproductive problems to cancer.
Yet that is exactly what the Coca-Cola-owned Simply Orange products contain, according to a class action lawsuit filed in a New York federal court on Dec. 28 of last year, giving the lie to its natural claims.
“In reality, Plaintiff’s testing has revealed that the Product contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a category of synthetic chemicals that are, by definition, not natural,” the lawsuit states, as Top Class Actions reported.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—or PFAS—are a growing concern because of the many health impacts associated with exposure and their tendency to persist in the human body for months to years and in the environment for thousands of years, according to the PFAS Project Lab. There are thousands of these chemicals that are commonly used in industry and in consumer products including firefighting foam and stain- or water-resistant items. They have been found in the blood of most U.S. residents as well as in breast milk and umbilical cord blood, as well as rainwater around the world.
As concerns about these chemicals mount, efforts to regulate them have increased. In June of last year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its safe drinking water guidelines for two of the most common PFAS to near zero.
Now, plaintiff Joseph Lurenz claims that independent testing for the two chemicals in Simply Orange Juice turned up levels “hundreds of times” more than that, according to Top Class Actions and The Guardian.
The PFAS in question–PFOA and PFOS–are considered two of the most dangerous forever chemicals. While they have been phased out from active use in the U.S., they continue to linger in the environment.
The suit claims that their presence in the juice renders its advertising claims misleading. Simply’s packaging promotes the beverage as from “all natural ingredients,” “simply natural,” having “nothing to hide,” and using “filtered water,” according to The Guardian.
This, the lawsuit argues, would prompt “reasonable consumers to believe that additional care has been taken to remove any incidental chemicals or impurities.”