Fizzled Trust: Nestle Class Action Alleges Perrier Mineral Water is ‘Polluted’

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Nestle Is Facing A Class Action Lawsuit Over Allegations That Its Perrier Water Is Not Mineral Water And Shouldn’t Be Sold As Such.

Perrier carbonated mineral water, which comes from a naturally carbonated underground spring in France, has long been considered natural and high quality, but a new lawsuit is tearing that reputation apart. 

A New York resident has accused Nestle of misleading the public by branding its Perrier water as mineral water when in fact the spring it comes from is polluted and bacteria filled, and the water must be treated and filtered before being bottled meaning it no longer qualifies as natural mineral water. 

Alleged false advertising

Kevin O’Rourke filed the proposed class action lawsuit in New York federal court accusing Nestle of misleading him and other consumers about the quality and treatment of Perrier water. 

The European Union and United States regulate mineral water, with both ruling mineral water must “originate from a geologically and physically protected underground water source,” and it is “distinguished from other types of water by its constant level and relative proportions of minerals and trace elements at the point of emergence from the source” without having minerals added, the lawsuit states.

However, O’Rourke argues Perrier’s “Sparkling Natural Mineral Water,” “Natural Mineral Water,” and “Flavored Carbonated Mineral Water,” are “misbranded and misleading.” He argues the water they contain has been filtered, treated, and altered because the French spring the water comes from “may be regularly contaminated microbiologically, by bacteria such as Escherichia coli, coliform bacteria, enterococci, and traces of chemical pollutants, such as pesticide metabolites.”

Whistleblower alerts to pollution

The proposed class action lawsuit follows a whistleblower’s 2020 report of malpractice in the mineral water industry, Le Monde reported at the time. A government investigation ensued, and it found Nestle was involved in the malpractice. 

The lawsuit claims inspectors were “deliberately misled during previous inspections” of Nestle plants and in the follow up visits found “ filters hidden in electrical cabinets, health checks on raw water falsified by measurements taken after passing through UV and activated carbon treatments, and so on.”

A magistrate confirmed that “Nestlé did indeed use illegal filtration systems, and its natural mineral waters lost their status as natural mineral waters. This amounts to deception,” the lawsuit argues.

Company says climate impacts to blame

Even Nestle admits it’s having challenges maintaining the mineral qualities of Perrier water. The company argues environmental changes have made it difficult, and say “climatic and environmental conditions, with the multiplication of extreme events, such as droughts or floods, combined with the expansion of human activities around our sites, makes it very difficult to maintain stability essential characteristics of a natural mineral water,” the lawsuit states. 

However, regardless of what Nestle is doing to address the issues, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the sale of that water should be suspended if it does not meet regulatory standards, the lawsuit states.

Nestle’s past legal issues

The new proposed class action isn’t the only legal action Nestle has faced regarding its water brands. Before offloading Poland Spring to private equity firms in 2021, it battled in court for almost two decades about the source of the bottled water, Forbes reported. Some of those battles with consumers are still ongoing.

Meanwhile, Nestle has also faced proposed class action lawsuits including over the advertising of its Carnation Breakfast Essentials products. One accused the Swiss giant of falsely advertising there were no artificial flavors included, and another alleged the product had less protein than advertised.

In this case, O’Rourke wants to represent New York residents, arguing Nestle is amongst “unscrupulous sellers” who “are not reluctant to pass off basic groundwater as mineral water, resulting in physical and economic harm.”

He is alleging violations of New York General Business Law and is seeking damages and costs.

The plaintiff is represented by Spencer Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates P.C.

The Nestle Perrier false advertising class action lawsuit is Kevin O’Rourke et al v. Nestle USA Inc., Case No. 2:24-cv-01607, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Central Islip.

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