Simply Orange Lawsuit (2024 Update) – Forbes Advisor – Forbes

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Does Simply Orange juice contain forever chemicals? That question has weighed heavily on consumers since New York resident Joseph Lurenz filed a class-action lawsuit against The Simply Orange Juice Company in January.

The case, Joseph Lurenz v. The Coca-Cola Company and The Simply Orange Juice Company, more commonly known as the Simply Orange lawsuit, which also names its parent company Coca-Cola, claims to have found hazardous synthetic compounds in Simply Tropical juice. It alleges that the brand lied about its all-natural ingredients and used false advertising to attract health-savvy consumers.

Coca-Cola could face millions of dollars in fines and, potentially, millions more in damages. The company may also be required to issue a Simply Orange juice recall of all contaminated products. Currently, Simply Orange juice is not recalled, but following ongoing updates from Forbes Advisor can keep you properly informed about the products in your local grocery stores.


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Simply Orange Lawsuit Update

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Is there a problem with Simply Orange orange juice? Not exactly. The Simply Orange lawsuit only names Simply Tropical juice as containing hazardous compounds at this time.

Through third-party testing, Lurenz found high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds known as PFAS in Simply Orange’s Simply Tropical juice. These synthetic compounds were not listed on the juice’s label, which claims to contain only filtered water, pineapple and lemon juices, cane sugar, mango puree, and other natural flavors.

PFAS are manufactured chemicals that directly contradict the juice company’s all-natural stance. The Simply Tropical juice that Lurenz tested had more than 100 times the amount of PFAS recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Coca-Cola has not yet made an official statement regarding the Simply Orange Lawsuit but is aware of the allegations. A company spokesperson told local news outlets that the company stands by its products and is prepared to fight the accusations. (In fact, the beverage giant faced down a similar case ten years ago in Illinois when a consumer accused Simply Orange of using flavor packets in place of natural fruit juice.)

At the writing of this article, it is not known whether the other Simply Orange juices have PFAS. Lurenz did not test any other Simply Orange flavors. However, all of the Simply products, including Simply Tropical, Simply Orange, and Simply Lemonade, use the same packaging and brand language describing only all-natural ingredients.


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What Is The Simply Orange Lawsuit About?

You do not have to be named in the class-action suit against Simply Orange to collect damages. While Joseph Lurenz is the named plaintiff, any consumers affected by the alleged Simply Tropical contamination will be included as unnamed plaintiffs once the court certifies the lawsuit.

The Simply Orange lawsuit claims that the juice company marketed explicitly to health-conscious consumers yet failed to list the presence of synthetic PFAS on the Simply Tropical juice label. The complaint goes on to accuse the company of justifying a higher price point for a product promised to be natural and organic.

False or negligent advertisement is illegal. False advertisement claims like these can lead to class-action lawsuits that cost companies billions of dollars, on top of steep fines levied by the U.S. government.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates what is known as truth-in-advertising throughout the country. It monitors all types of media, from billboards to product labels, to ensure all product claims are honest and transparent. Companies are expected to adhere to regulations and not mislead customers with false claims or pay penalties.

Simply Orange also faces charges locally. New York, where the Simply Orange lawsuit was filed, banned the use of PFAS in December 2022. State law requires all food packaging to be made of plant-based fibers, such as paper or cardboard, to prevent the travel of contaminants into food items.

Federally, the Simply Orange lawsuit could cost Coca-Cola up to $2,500 per product, adding up to millions in fines. And in New York, the company could face additional fines of up to $1,000 per day for every day the contaminated products were in local grocery stores.

What Are PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been present in almost every household product since the 1940s. It was invented by scientists at DuPont in 1938 and originally used in Teflon. Today, these substances are in a wide variety of products such as house paint, clothing, stain repellent, food packaging, wrapping and carryout containers.

The unique combination of organic and synthetic compounds in PFAS enables them to withstand high temperatures and repel water. Many different types of PFAS exist, depending on the structure and properties of the chemical compounds. For example, a subgroup of PFAS, known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), reduces the surface tension of water and is commonly used in flame retardants and food-safe packaging.

Unfortunately, the components of PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS, are forever chemicals—they cling to plants, soil and animal and human blood cells and take over 1,000 years to break down.

PFAS Contamination

The Simply Orange lawsuit centers around PFOA and PFOS, two water-resistant PFAS found in the Simply Tropical juice tested by Lurenz. The FDA regulates the amount of PFOA and PFOS used in food storage containers to help mitigate the migration of these chemicals into the food, but these regulations don’t include all types of PFAS.

Further, the FDA only recently released guidelines recommending corporations to send food packaging samples for testing, but companies are not required to comply.

FDA testing does show that organics grown in contaminated areas won’t necessarily have detectable levels of PFAS at the time of packaging or consumption. Still, a closer look at food wrappers and other types of carryout packaging finds high levels of PFAS in use at popular restaurants.

While the FDA monitors PFAS in food, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates PFAS in drinking water. In 2022, the EPA named PFOA and PFOS as hazardous materials, and in summer 2023, testing found that public water systems in over 3,000 locations throughout the U.S. are contaminated, with urban areas 75% more likely to have contaminated water than rural neighborhoods.


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Health Impacts of PFAS

PFAS accumulate in the environment and the human body and do not break down quickly. Most humans already have PFAS in their bloodstream, so scientists are interested in the compounding adverse effects of these forever chemicals, specifically—what do PFAS do to your body over time?

The long-term health impacts of PFAS include liver disease, immune deficiencies, low birth weight and cancer. Long-term exposure to these chemicals increases the likelihood of negative health effects, but not enough studies have been done on humans to determine just how detrimental these compounds can be.

The EPA recommends testing your drinking water and contacting your local health department if you think there has been PFAS contamination in your area.

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The Future of the Simply Orange Lawsuit

In October, 2023, Coca-Cola filed a motion to dismiss the Simply Orange lawsuit, claiming that the plaintiff has failed to show that PFAS is present in any of the Simply Orange or Simply Tropical products. The company claims that the “simply” refers to the ingredients and how the product is made and does not promise that the product is healthy.

According to Coca-Cola’s filing, FDA regulations exempt incidental substances like PFAS from disclosure if they are present in ingredients and not ingredients themselves. If there are PFAS in the product, Coca-Cola seems to argue, it is due to the presence of PFAS in the water used in production.

Even if the case is dismissed, as Coca-Cola seeks, there may still be further lawsuits involving PFAS in Simply Orange or other products. The judge has yet to rule on the motion to dismiss, and both the ruling and the reasoning behind it will be key to knowing how this lawsuit and similar cases may go forward.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is there a recall on Simply Orange orange juice?

No Simply Orange juice recall has been announced by Coca-Cola or the Simply Orange Juice Company, and the product is still available in stores.

Is the Simply Orange lawsuit real?

Yes, Joseph Lurenz filed a class-action lawsuit against Simply Orange and its parent company, Coca-Cola, on behalf of all consumers negatively affected by the juice company’s false claims.

Why is Simply Orange being sued?

The Simply Orange lawsuit alleges that the juice company falsely advertised its Simply Tropical product as all-natural when third-party testing found hazardous levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds known as PFAS, a synthetic compound linked to cancer and liver disease.

What does PFAS do to your body?

PFAS are correlated with liver and thyroid disease, cancer, immune deficiencies, and low birth weight in newborns.

What foods and drinks contain PFAS?

Most foods and drinking water contain trace amounts of PFAS that the FDA and EPA carefully monitor. PFAS do not occur organically in food products but are commonly found in food packaging and shipping materials.

What are the symptoms of PFAS exposure?

A sudden increase in cholesterol levels or liver enzymes could be a sign of PFAS exposure. Other unique symptoms include high blood pressure in pregnant women and decreased vaccine responses in young children.

Is Simply Orange owned by Minute Maid?

Coca-Cola owns both Simply Orange and Minute Maid.

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