Last year, OCA sued Bigelow, after the brand’s Classic Green Tea tested positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many herbicides, most notably in Monsanto's star product, Roundup. The chemical is applied to more than 150 food and non-food crops and used on lawns, gardens and parks. In fact, researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that human exposure to glyphosate has increased approximately 500 percent since 1994, the year Monsanto introduced its genetically modified Roundup Ready crops in the U.S. Today, the chemical can be detected in everyday household foods such as cookies, crackers, ice cream and even our urine.
Organic Consumer Association alleges that Bigelow Tea puts the words “All Natural” on its Classic Green Tea and other tea products, and also represents its products and the company as being “environmentally friendly” even though Bigelow’s Green Tea tested positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup® weedkiller.
Among other health and environmental concerns, according to a report published January 2017, low doses of glyphosate have been linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, suggesting that there is no “safe” level of glyphosate.
In March 2015, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which labeled glyphosate a "probable carcinogen." The France-based panel's ruling has since sparked debate around the world, prompted hundreds of lawsuits over allegations that glyphosate causes cancer, and resulted in the state of California adding glyphosate to its list of cancer-causing chemicals.
"All Natural" Should Mean Pesticide Free
According to the lawsuit that an estimated 0.38 ppm in Bigelow Green Tea. The lawsuit isn't about the contamination rather, the complaint alleges that Bigelow deceptively labeled, marketed and sold tea products with the representation of "All Natural" and "Natural," making the products appear environmentally friendly.
“Like other companies that market their products as ‘natural’ and ‘environmentally friendly,’ Bigelow is using these terms to profit from growing consumer demand for healthier, more sustainable produced products, even though the company knows those claims are false,” said Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association.
“Bigelow knows that health-conscious consumers will pay a premium for “all natural” products believing those products are free of pesticides and other contaminants. Likewise, Bigelow knows that consumers who care about the environment will pay more for products they believe were produced using methods that don’t harm the environment. As a consumer education and advocacy group, it’s our job to expose these false claims and force corporations to either clean up their products, or clean up their labels and advertising.”
Judge Denies Request for Case Dismissal
OCA is represented by Richman Law Group.
They filed the suit in Washington, D.C., under the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA), because we believe consumers don’t expect an “All Natural” product to contain pesticide residues.
Bigelow did what all corporations do in the face of a lawsuit—it asked the court to dismiss the case. The court said no. The case will go forward.
In its ruling, Judge Robert Rigsby agreed with us—that any “reasonable fact-finder considering the facts as alleged [in this case] could conclude that consumers have been misled in violation of the CPPA.”
In other words, Judge Rigsby recognized that the word “natural” means something to consumers. And that “something” doesn’t include pesticide contamination.