A California resident has filed a putative nationwide class action against Suja Life, LLC, alleging that the company, which advertises and labels its juice products as “raw” and “cold-pressed,” misleads consumers because it uses a high pressure processing (HPP) treatment that alters the nutrients and live enzymes that raw-product purchasers wish to consume. Heikkila v. Suja Life, LLC, No. 14-0556 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., filed February 5, 2014). Claiming that HPP’s effects on juice products are “identical to those of traditional pasteuriza- tion—inactivated enzymes, inactivated probiotics, altered physical properties of the product, and denatured proteins, among other undesirable qualities,” the plaintiff alleges that the products “are nothing more than run-of-the-mill, processed juices.”
According to the complaint, the plaintiff reviewed the company’s Website, packaging and labeling before making her purchase and paid a premium price for the products. She contends that raw juices have a short shelf life and are thus more expensive than “the average 100% pasteurized juices. . . . Surprisingly, Defendant’s Juice Products, unlike other raw and unpasteurized juices on the market have a considerably longer shelf life of about 30 days.”
Alleging violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, breach of express warranty and the implied warranty of merchantability, unjust enrichment/ common law restitution, and violations of California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law, the plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, disgorgement, restitution, interest, attorney’s fees, and costs.
According to a news source, the law firm that filed the suit also filed the same types of claims on behalf of four named plaintiffs in 2013 against Hain Celes- tial for its BluePrint HPP-treated juices, which are also marketed as “raw.”That suit has apparently been dismissed without prejudice at the plaintiffs’ request. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has defined “fresh,” a term that cannot be used for HPP products, no specific regulations have been devel- oped for those products labeled “raw.” See BevNet.com, February 12, 2014.