Two consumers have filed a putative class action alleging that two lines of kombucha manufactured by Millennium Products and sold by Whole Foods Market contain several defects, including levels of alcohol higher than the label represents and packaging inadequate to properly accommodate the product’s secondary fermentation. Pedro v. Millennium Prods., Inc., No. 15-5253 (N.D. Cal., filed November 17, 2015).
Millennium’s kombucha, a fermented tea product, is sold in two lines—a “Classic” line requiring the purchaser to be 21 years old and an “Enlightened” line containing “a trace amount of alcohol” but insufficient amounts to require identification upon purchase (less than 0.05 percent alcohol by volume). The plaintiffs allege that both lines contain more alcohol than the label indicates, which allegedly caused one plaintiff to become sick and experience “among other things, trouble breathing, and increased heart rate.”
The plaintiffs further allege the byproduct of kombucha’s fermentation, carbon dioxide, builds up inside the bottle, which can result in explosions upon opening the product. One plaintiff alleges the product packaging has leaked while in her purse on multiple occasions, causing damage to her purses and their contents. The complaint cites a number of web resources, including blog posts, Facebook and Yahoo! Answers, to argue that many other purchasers of kombucha have experienced similar issues. The plaintiffs seek class certification, an injunction, restitution, damages and attorney’s fees for alleged violations of California’s consumer-protection statutes.