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A new lawsuit claims that the Simply Tropical juice drink, which is made by Coca-Cola and Simply Orange, contains toxic levels of PFAS. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a group of man-made chemicals commonly called “forever chemicals.”
PFAS are a class of about 12,000 chemicals typically used to make thousands of consumer products resist water, stains and heat. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, and they are linked to cancer, fetal complications, liver disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disorders and other serious health issues. According to the EPA, PFAS are “very persistent in the environment and in the human body, meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time.”
The case, filed in the Southern District of New York on December 28, 2022, stresses that the makers of Simply Tropical juice, the Coca-Cola Company and The Simply Orange Juice Company, have “tireless[ly]” marketed the product as “natural” and made with simple ingredients, in a manner intentionally targeted toward health-conscious consumers. According to the lawsuit, the presence of harmful PFAS in Simply Tropical juice is “entirely inconsistent” with Coca-Cola and the Simply Orange Juice Company’s “all-natural,” “nothing to hide” positioning of the product.
“The Product does not disclose the presence of PFAS—or any other synthetic chemical—in their ingredients,” the complaint summarizes. “Rather, Defendants claim the only ingredients are filtered water, fruit juice and puree, cane sugar, and natural flavors.”
While Simply produces multiple juices, including orange, fruit punch, apple, and cranberry, this particular lawsuit alleges that only Simply Tropical contains PFAS.
As the case tells it, the defendants lean heavily on “natural” and “simple” representations on the Simply Tropical juice packaging, using the word “simply” to reinforce the belief that the drink is free from artificial ingredients. On the back-panel ingredients list, the companies list first “filtered water,” which, according to the suit, leads reasonable consumers to believe that “additional care has been taken to remove any incidental chemicals or impurities.”
Further, the Simply Tropical juice website is replete with “health-focused representations,” reassuring consumers that the product is a healthy choice made with simple ingredients, the case says. The defendants’ broader marketing campaign is, moreover, “designed to appeal to younger consumers” by touting the juice as “a total beverage solution” and a “simple” food product, the suit alleges.
The plaintiff, Joseph Lurenz, sought independent third-party testing to determine whether Simply Tropical juice contained PFAS, the suit shares. According to the case, the testing commissioned by the Lurenz “detected material levels” of forever chemicals in the Simply Tropical juice, including “concerning” levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), two of the “most well-studied types of PFAS.”
The EPA last year found that virtually no exposure to the two compounds in drinking water is safe. The complaint doesn’t provide specific test results, but said testing found PFOA and PFOS levels “hundreds of times” above what the EPA considers safe for drinking water. No limits for PFAS in fruit juice or other food products exist in the US.
The suit comes amid increased scrutiny over the use of PFAS in plastic. A lawsuit filed in late December just days ahead of the class action suit asks a judge to order Houston-based firm Inhance to stop adding PFAS to plastic. Testing from academic and EPA researchers over the last two years has found high levels of the chemicals can leach into food and other products that have been treated with PFAS.
PFAS are also over half of all makeup sold in the U.S. and Canada, according to research published in June of 2021. I covered this story back in 2021, and it’s just one of the reasons that I created CHARLÍS, a certified Toxic-Free line of luxury skin care products.
The lawsuit says testing revealed that Simply Tropical juice contained PFOA and PFOS in amounts “more than 100 times the EPA’s recommended levels.”
Simply Tropical “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,” the suit continued.
The EPA could (and should) have banned any products containing PFAS years ago, but as we’ve discussed ad nauseam, our regulatory bodies have been captured by the very industries they’re meant to scrutinize.
From 2017 to 2021, Andrew Wheeler was the Deputy Administrator, then the acting Administrator of the EPA. However, Wheeler worked as a lobbyist for the very companies he eventually regulated starting back in 2009. The revolving door between state agencies and private corporations has continued to put American consumers in harm’s way.
When you go to the store – whether it’s for cosmetics, clothes, food, technology, or medicine – you likely embark with an assumption that the products on offer are safe, effective, and “as-advertised.”
You assume that “all natural” means free of dangerous chemicals. You assume that “organic” foods are actually organic. You assume that drugs labeled “safe and effective” have demonstrated real efficacy without throwing out safety signals.
Bad news, folks: It “Simply” isn’t true.
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Ty and Charlene,we are with you guys. Doing a great job.
Paul L. Cruea says
Thank you for the warning(s).
When I speak of TTAC & TTAV I refer to you as friends who don’t know me.
At times I feel like it would be better to simply hide my head in the sand like every other of the people closer within my world but space is filling up in the sand more and more these days.