PFAS are back on the radar! This time it’s found to be contaminating the popular Simply Tropical juice at a horrifying level, resulting in a Simply Orange Juice Lawsuit. The product in question is actually a tropical fruit juice made from pineapples, lemons, and mangoes, which is marketed as “all natural” and “healthy,” but in reality, is laced with synthetic toxins.
PFAS in consumer goods isn’t a new occurrence. Over the past decade, there have been several complaints regarding the presence of these “forever chemicals” in everything from plastic containers and drinking water to baby food products and hygiene essentials. However, this particular lawsuit has become the talk of the town as it’s lodged against the beverage giant The Coca-Cola Company and its entity, The Simply Orange Juice Company. So if you too enjoy a glass of fresh Simply Tropical juice in the mornings, then it’s time to know more about it!
- Background of Simply Orange Juice
- Allegations and Claims
- Status of the Lawsuit
- Coca-Cola’s Response to the Allegations
- Expert Opinions Regarding PFAS in Simply Orange Juice
- Similar Lawsuits and Precedents
- Consumer Rights and Safety Regulations
- Wrapping it Up…
Background of Simply Orange Juice
Simply Beverages or Simply Orange Juice Company, was established in 2001 in Apopka, Florida, as a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company— one of the world’s leading beverage corporations. It was created with the vision to provide consumers with refreshing and authentic orange and other fruit juice experiences. The brand quickly gained recognition among health-focused individuals for its unique approach to juice production, prioritizing simplicity and purity.
Simply Orange Juice Company declares that it is committed to using only the best-quality fruits that are carefully selected and squeezed to extract pure juice, ensuring that no pulp or other additives are included. The company further mentions that it employs a minimal processing and pasteurization technique to maintain the freshness, flavor, and goodness of real fruits in its juice range.
Initially, Simply Orange Juice Company started out with just three “Simply Orange” varieties in the Northwestern US: “Original”, “Original with Calcium”, and “Grove Made”. By 2003, it expanded operations to the Southeastern US and began distribution at a national level. In 2004, a fourth variety of juice was added: “Country Stand with Calcium”. Then, in 2006, the “Simply” juice line widened with the launch of “Simply Lemonade” and “Simply Limeade,” followed by the introduction of “Simply Grapefruit” in August 2007. Over the years, the company kept expanding its product line and, at present, offers over 30 types of juices.
One of the factors contributing to the popularity of Simply Orange Juice Company is its transparency in labelling and marketing. The brand emphasizes that it solely makes pure squeezed fruit juice without any added ingredients or concentrates. This transparency deeply resonated with consumers who prioritize natural and wholesome products.
Simply Orange Juice Company has also differentiated itself through its distinctive packaging. The brand’s iconic clear plastic carafe is designed to showcase the vibrant color of the juice, enhancing the visual appeal. This packaging innovation has not only made Simply’s products easily recognizable on store shelves but has also contributed to its premium image.
Allegations and Claims
Overview of the Lawsuit
On December 28, 2022, a class-action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of New York, charging The Coca Cola Company and its brand Simply Orange Juice Company for deceiving consumers about its Simply Tropical juice that claims to be “all-natural” but is actually contaminated with toxic PFAS. It was found that the level of PFAS’s presence in the product was about a “hundred times” above the federal advisory limits for drinking water.
The complaint was filed by Joseph Lorenz, who ordered an independent third-party testing on the Simply Tropical juice to find out if the product is really as “healthy and all natural” as it is advertised to be. And the results were shocking! The plaintiff pointed out at several claims on Simply Tropical’s packaging and branding. He specified that the product’s label consists of terms like “100% pure squeezed juice,” “all natural ingredients”, “simply natural”, “filtered water,” and “nothing to hide”. These mentions are enough to brainwash buyers into believing that extra care has been taken to remove any chemicals or impurities from the juice.
Furthermore, Lurenz said in his complaint, “In reality, testing has revealed that the product contains [PFAS], a category of synthetic chemicals that are, by definition, not natural…” The suit voices out that it’s all a part of Simply’s promotional game of positioning its juice as “transparent, natural, and simple in order to gain the trust of reasonable consumers who reasonably believe that the product is free from synthetic ingredients.”
According to the complaint, “Simply’s marketing is intentionally designed to drive sales and increase profits by targeting health-conscious consumers”. It also reported, “Defendant’s Product exposes hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting consumers, many of whom are children, to toxic synthetic chemicals at levels far beyond what the EPA deems safe, in direct contradiction to their uniform representations.”
Potential Health and Environmental Risks Associated with PFAS
PFAS or Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances are a group of 12000 manmade chemicals that have been widely used in various industrial and consumer products for their water, grease and heat resistance properties. They are commonly found in products such as non-stick cookware, waterproof fabrics, food packaging, and even firefighting foams. Due to their stubborn nature of not easily breaking down, PFAS are often referred to as “forever chemicals.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PFAS compounds have a hard time leaving your body if ingested. Exposure to PFAS compounds has been linked to an increased risk of various health issues, including liver damage, kidney cancer, thyroid disease, immune system dysfunction, developmental effects in infants and children, along with reproductive and hormonal disorders.
In addition, PFAS are highly persistent in the environment and have the potential to bioaccumulate in wildlife and humans. This can lead to long-term environmental contamination and potential harm to ecosystems.
It’s important to note that regulations and guidelines regarding PFAS vary by country and region. Regulatory bodies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have set limits for certain PFAS compounds in drinking water and specific products.
Status of the Lawsuit
Joseph Lurenz is suing The Coca Cola Company on behalf of everyone who purchased Simply Tropical juice in the US. He’s charging the corporation with fraud, breach of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, violation of New York consumer laws, and unjust enrichment. The plaintiff seeks for monetary compensation and a jury trial for the damages done. The Simply Orange lawsuit is still awaiting the verdict.
The suit alleged that the testing identified “material level” traces of Perfluoro Octanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS), two of the most hazardous PFAS compounds, which are currently phased out in the US, but are still used continue to contaminate the nation’s environment.
It is to be noted that in June 2022, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that absolutely no level of exposure to PFOA and PFOS is safe in drinking water. On the other hand, the test results mentioned in the complaint found the presence of these two compounds 100 times more than what the EPA reviews as acceptable.
Coca-Cola’s Response to the Allegations
Addressing the allegations, a Coca-Cola spokesman said: “We are aware of the lawsuit, which focuses on our Simply Tropical product. We stand by the quality of our products.”
Expert Opinions Regarding PFAS in Simply Orange Juice
Tom Neltner, the chemicals policy director of the Environmental Defense Fund, said that it is difficult to determine how exactly PFAS residues made their way into Simply Tropical juice. As there is every chance that the water mixed in the juice or the fruits used or packaging was already contaminated by the chemicals. Neltner added that it is highly unlikely that the company intentionally added PFAS in the juice because, in that case, the toxicity levels would have been much higher. He concluded by saying,“As we get better and better able to measure PFAS at lower levels and the FDA falls further behind on what it is testing … then you’re going to keep seeing these lawsuits pop up.”
Similar Lawsuits and Precedents
In the past decades, there have been several high-profile lawsuits involving the presence of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in food and beverage products. These suits often involve allegations of consumer harm, seeking compensation for damages. Some examples of these notable cases are:
- The Thinx Lawsuit: Popular period underwear brand Thinx was accused of adding PFAS compounds in its menstrual undies to give them absorption and dry feel properties. The litigation is now settled after the company committed to paying up to $5 million as reimbursement for consumers who bought its product between Nov. 12, 2016, and Nov. 28, 2022.
- PFAS in Food Packaging: Lawsuits have been registered against fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King for incorporating PFAS in their packaging materials. These compounds can potentially migrate into food and pose health risks upon consumption. The lawsuits claim that consumers were not adequately informed about the presence of PFAS in the packaging.
- Non-stick Cookware: Manufacturing non-stick cookware and PFAS walk hand-in-hand. Because these cooking utensils particularly use Teflon, which historically contained PFAS compounds. There have been numerous lawsuits by consumers alleging that they were not properly warned about the possible health issues associated with PFAS exposure.
Consumer Rights and Safety Regulations
Regulatory bodies play a crucial role in ensuring product safety and protecting consumers from inherent health risks associated with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Here are some key regulatory bodies and their roles in managing PFAS:
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The EPA is responsible for regulating and monitoring environmental contaminants, including PFAS. It has established health advisory levels for certain PFAS compounds in drinking water and actively conducts research on the health hazards of PFAS exposure. The agency also provides guidelines and recommendations to industries regarding the use and disposal of PFAS.
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA): In the United States, the FDA is accountable for ensuring the safety and proper labelling of food, including food packaging. While there are currently no specific federal regulations regarding PFAS in food, the FDA monitors the presence of contaminants, including PFAS, in food and takes action if necessary to protect public health.
- European Chemicals Agency (ECHA): The ECHA regulates the safe use of chemicals within the European Union (EU). Under the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation, the ECHA assesses the risks of various chemicals, including PFAS, and sets restrictions and guidelines for their use to protect human health and the environment.
- Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): The CPSC is a U.S. agency responsible for protecting consumers from potential hazards associated with consumer products. While PFAS is not specifically regulated by the CPSC, they have the authority to address product safety concerns and can take action against companies that fail to comply with these standards.
Regarding consumer rights and avenues for seeking compensation or filing complaints related to PFAS in products, it is essential to consider the following:
- Consumer Protection Laws: These laws vary by country and jurisdiction. They are laid out to safeguard consumers from products that do not meet safety standards or are falsely marketed. Because as consumers have the buying power and place their trust in companies to fulfil their daily requirements, they have every right to expect safe and properly labelled products.
- Product Recalls: In cases where a product is found to contain harmful levels of PFAS or poses a risk to consumer safety, regulatory agencies may issue product recalls or provide guidance on the proper course of action. Manufacturers may also voluntarily recall products to address safety concerns.
- Reporting Complaints: If consumers suspect that a product contains PFAS and is a threat to their health, they can report their concerns to relevant regulatory agencies, such as the EPA, FDA, or local consumer protection agencies. These agencies may investigate the issue and take appropriate actions to protect consumer interests.
- Legal Actions: In some instances, consumers may choose to pursue legal action against manufacturers or entities responsible for producing or distributing products containing PFAS. Consulting with legal professionals experienced in product liability or consumer protection laws can provide guidance on seeking compensation or filing lawsuits.
Wrapping it Up…
The industry-wide use of PFAS, especially in consumer goods has been a topic of concern for many years now. And unfortunately, the Coca Cola Simply Orange Juice lawsuit is just one of them. While it’s good to see that people are slowly becoming aware of lifestyle products, there still remains a major chunk of consumers who blindly carry on consuming whatever commercialized brands are offering. As far as the Simply Orange Juice PFAS lawsuit is concerned, it is best if you stay away from the Simply Tropical juice and switch to better organic alternatives. Overall, let’s make a habit of reading the product labels and questioning brands in case of doubts.
Why is Simply Orange Juice being sued?
Simply Orange Juice Company is being sued because traces of dangerous levels of PFAS were found in their Simply Tropical fruit juice.
Is Simply Orange Juice being sued for toxic chemicals?
Yes, Simply Orange Juice is being sued for toxic chemicals in its products.
Does Coca-Cola own Simply Orange?
Yes, Coca-Cola owns Simply Orange Juice Company.
Which is the healthiest orange juice?
The healthiest orange juice will definitely be the one you squeeze out yourself at home from organic oranges. If that isn’t an option, there are many clean labels offering organic orange and other fruit juices. So it’s a good idea to check them out.
Is there a recall on Simply Orange juice?
No, so far, Simply Orange Juice Company has not taken any step to recall its Simply Tropical juices, as the company claims that they are sure about the authenticity of their products.
Where does Simply Orange juice come from?
Simply Orange Juice Company is a major purchaser of Florida oranges, which are used for its orange juice. However, it also imports orange juice from Brazil and Mexico.
How to join the Simply Orange juice lawsuit?
You cannot directly join the Simply Orange Juice lawsuit. But if you have receipts for purchases of the Simply Tropical juice, then it will be logical to hold onto them till the lawsuit reaches a settlement. Because that might be your chance to file a claim for reimbursement. As of now, the decision is still pending.