It’s no secret that bottled water is a competitive industry—and that marketing departments compete hard to win consumers’ interest and loyalty.
But there’s a difference between working hard to appease customers, and working hard to deceive them—which is now the allegation being lobbed at Nestlé in a damning class-action lawsuit accusing the corporation of “colossal fraud perpetrated against American consumers.”
The lawsuit in a Connecticut Federal Court on Tuesday states:
“Not one drop of Poland Spring Water emanates from a water source that complies with the Food and Drug Administration definition of ‘spring water.
“The famous Poland Spring in Poland Spring, Maine, which defendant’s labels claim is a source of Poland Spring Water, ran dry nearly 50 years ago.”
( ) CEO Peter says is not a human right and should be privatized.
— Rob (@Unpersuaded112)
The allegations are damning and would constitute massive legal repercussions for Nestlé, though they claim the lawsuit is frivolous, releasing this statement:
“Poland Spring is 100 percent spring water. The claims made in the lawsuit are without merit and an obvious attempt to manipulate the legal system for personal gain.”
It’s ironic that such a highly-profitable corporation is accusing others of being motivated by personal gain, though in the name of due process, it is true that the case is still pending and the allegations are unconfirmed.
. consumer fraud? 'Not one drop’ of Poland Spring bottled water is from a spring, lawsuit claims
— Gary Ruskin (@garyruskin)
Still, the lawsuit reiterates that blatant is being used, going so far as to implicate not only the bottled water’s potrayal through marketing, but even its hygiene and safety.
“…the labels depict pristine scenes of water flowing down a verdant hillside or a forest pond,” reads the suit, “when it fact, the vast bulk of water is drawn from wells in low-lying populated areas near potential sources of contamination.”
Worst of all, there are allegations that the wells “are near a present or former human waste dump, landfill, fish hatchery, or toxic petroleum dump site.
Unsurprisingly, this isn’t Nestlé’s first run-in with the law.
The company enjoys access to water sources inside the San Bernardino National Forest, which is bottles and sells under its Arrowhead brand.
But according to two whistleblowers, the water is taking from inside a mountain—not from emergent water as required by the FDA’s legal definition of “spring water.”
However, there may be a broader issue at work here, namely the laws in the books which offer, at best, a vague and malleable definition of what constitutes spring water.
“Most of Nestle’s waters are pumped from the ground, but the bigger issue that the regulatory definition of what really counts as spring water is really weak,” said Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, “No one is really looking over the shoulders of the bottled water companies.”
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