By Ray Latif
While news of an $85 million wrongful death lawsuit filed against Red Bull was sprayed across today’s pages of The New York Daily News, it was small website called topclassactions.com that last week broke the news of Hain Celestial being hit with a false advertising class action lawsuit, one that could severely alter how a new and burgeoning wave of high-pressure processed juices are marketed and sold.
The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, accuses Hain of dishonestly marketing its BluePrint brand of HPP, super-premium juice and cleanse products as “raw” and “unpasteurized.”
The plaintiffs allege that despite BluePrint’s claim that HPP retains the flavor profile and nutrients of raw juice, the processing actually “neutralizes the benefits of the live enzymes, probiotics, vitamins, proteins, and nutrients that would otherwise be retained in a raw unpasteurized juice.” The plaintiffs note that that while HPP is not the same as traditional pasteurization, the processing method does have some of the same effects of pasteurization on juice in that HPP destroys probiotics and enzymes thus breaching “the fundamental principles underlying the raw food movement, consumers’ expectations and industry standards.”
The lawsuit claims BluePrint, which was acquired by Hain Celestial last November, used the phrases “100% Raw,” “Raw and Organic,” and “Unpasteurized” in its marketing and packaging “in an effort to appeal to health-conscious, raw-juice-drinking consumers,” and enabled Hain Celestial to charge a significant price premium — roughly double the price of similarly sized, but properly labeled HPP-treated juice products.” Because the plaintiffs claim that BluePrint juices are, in essence, processed in the same way as pasteurized juices, the products are worth less than what was paid for them. They also state that they would not have purchased them had they known the juices were not raw nor unpasteurized.
In response to an e-mail inquiry about the lawsuit, BluePrint co-founder Erica Huss told BevNET that “our company policy is that we do not comment on litigation matters.”
The plaintiffs allege that that Hain has violated the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, California’s Unfair Competition Law, California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, California’s False Advertising Law, and New York General Business Law. They are seeking class action status for the lawsuit and believe Hain could end up paying more than $5 million to the members of the suit.