High PFAS Levels in Popular Smoothies: Lawsuit

The manufacturers of the Green Goodness smoothie have worked to create a reputation for the beverage as a wholesome drink. In actuality, however, the smoothie contains excessive levels of toxic PFAS* chemicals.  Now, the smoothie manufacturer, Bolthouse Farms, is being accused in a new class-action lawsuit of deceiving customers about it.  More specifically, the lawsuit** alleges that even though the makers of the Green Goodness smoothie claim the drink is made of “100% fruit juice”, independent laboratory testing has found that the drink contains toxic PFAS, a synthetic chemical, at levels far above federal advisory drinking water limits.***

clear glass mug with green liquid

How did the toxic PFAS chemicals get into the smoothie drink?

There are three possibilities: fruit, plastic containers, water. The fruit used in the smoothies could be contaminated from pesticides, water, or the use of PFAS-tainted sewage sludge as fertilizer. As for plastic packaging, it is a less likely scenario because the PFAS levels would likely be much higher if the plastic containers were leaching PFAS chemicals into the smoothies. It is also possible any water added to the drink could have been contaminated with PFAS chemicals.

*PFAS chemicals (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are toxic to humans, animals and the environment. They are comprised of approximately 12,000 compounds. They are ubiquitous in the U.S., appearing in thousands of consumer and industrial products and are typically used to make products resist water, stains and heat, including household products (like carpeting, curtains, furniture upholstery, waterproof and stain-resistant flooring, etc.), cooking supplies (including cooking utensils and bake ware), clothing, personal care products (like cosmetics, including waterproof mascara) and even food (PFAS appears in processed food packaging for humans and pets) and public drinking water (tap water) that affects an estimated 2 million Americans. PFAS chemicals are usually found in products labeled “stain-proof” and “waterproof”.  PFAS chemicals also appear in fire-fighting foam and other industrial products used at airports and military bases across the country, where the chemicals have leached into the groundwater. PFAS chemicals are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not readily break down in the environment or human body.  PFAS chemicals have been linked in scientific and medical studies to a variety of serious health conditions including cancer (including testicular cancers), kidney disease, heart disease, thyroid problems, reproductive problems, endocrine problems (PFAS has been found to disrupt hormonal functions with some research suggesting that the PFAS chemicals are linked to accelerated ovarian aging, period irregularities and ovarian disorders like polycystic ovarian syndrome) and liver problems. Some newer PFAS have been found to accumulate in organs, so in some cases, science simply cannot detect the toxic chemicals when testing for it in blood.

**The lawsuit reads in part: “Defendant is well aware of consumers’ desire to avoid potentially harmful chemicals, which is exactly why it has engaged in an aggressive, uniform marketing campaign intended to convince consumers that the product is free from artificial ingredients like PFAS.The same attorneys for this current lawsuit recently filed a similar lawsuit against Coca-Cola over PFAS in its Simply Tropical orange juice drink.

***Laboratory testing found three PFAS compounds (PFOS, 6:2 FTOH, and PFHxS) in the smoothie drink. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently found virtually no level of exposure to PFOS in drinking water is safe. No limits exist for 6:2 FTOH and PFHxS because they have not been as thoroughly studied as PFOS, though independent science has linked all three compounds to many of the same health issues*. Water is considered to be a main exposure route for the toxic PFAS chemicals, but researchers are increasingly finding food to be a source of exposure. (To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has failed to take meaningful steps to protect the nation’s food supply from toxic PFAS chemicals.)