Honest-ly: All Natural

**Jessica Alba’s Honest Company the Latest Target in California of the All Natural Plaintiff Class Action Bar in cocamidopropyl betaine case ** . . .                                                                                                                                                                           

Honesty and related virtues on a product box or package for instant reputation building, including sinerity, trustworthiness, honor, candor and integrity

The “All Natural” conundrum is yet to be solved.  The latest target is The Honest Co. – the celebrity driven purveyor of baby and cleaning products.  Rubin v. The Honest Company, Inc., 3:15-cv-04036-EDL (N.D. Cal. September 3, 2015).  The complaint touts a familiar trope – that defendant’s products with “natural” labeling actually have some artificial or synthetic ingredients.  In this case (inter alia) the allegedly offending ingredient is cocamidopropyl betaine.  A scary sounding ingredient – and one that sounds artificial.  In reality, it is a compound derived from coconut oil.  Courts have been consistent that scary sounding names aside, just because an ingredient is manufactured or extracted does not make it “un-natural.”  See Pelayo v. Nestle USA, Inc., 989 F. Supp. 2d 973, 978 (C.D. Cal. 2013) (holding that the “reasonable consumer is aware that Buitoni Pastas are not springing fully-formed from Ravioli trees and Tortellini bushes”); Balser v. Hain Celestial Group, Inc., CV 13–05604–R, 2013 WL 6673617 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 18, 2013) (dismissing without leave to amend a complaint involving a product line of over 30 “natural” shampoos and cosmetics, because “shampoos and lotions do not exist in nature, there are no shampoo trees, cosmetics are manufactured  . . . [t]hus Plaintiffs cannot plausibly allege they were deceived to believe shampoo was existing in or produced by nature”); Kane v. Chobani, Inc., 973 F.Supp.2d 1120, 1137 (N.D. Cal. 2014) (rejecting outright the assertion that fruit or vegetable juices were “highly processed unnatural substances far removed from the fruits or vegetables they were supposedly derived from and in fact were more akin to synthetic dyes like coal tar dyes”); see Rooney v. Cumberland Packing Corp., 2012 WL 1512106 (S.D. Cal. Apr. 16, 2012) (dismissing without leave to amend a complaint alleging that “Sugar in the Raw” was deceptive because it was actually processed and not natural sugar).  Thus ingredients with “un-natural” names like sodium bicarbonate, citric acid and glycerin have been held to be natural and thus not misleading.  See, respectively, Astiana v. Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Inc., No. C-11-2910 EMC, 2012 WL 2990766, at *1 (N.D. Cal. July 20, 2012) (noting that sodium bicarbonate is a non-synthetic alkalizing agent); Ries v. Arizona Beverages USA LLC, No. 10-01139 RS, 2013 WL 1287416, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 28, 2013) (granting summary judgment to defendant on question of whether citric acid in iced tea was natural, and defendant’s expert testimony that citric acid is a natural ingredient); Brazil v. Dole Packaged Foods, LLC, No. 12-CV-01831-LHK, 2014 WL 6901867, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 8, 2014) (same); Thurston v. Bear Naked, Inc., 2013 WL 5664985, at *7–8 (N.D.Cal. July 30, 2013) (holding, at class certification stage, plaintiff not entitled to proceed with claim that reasonable consumer would “view the presence of glycerin . . . as contrary to 100% Natural statement on label”).  A number of other cosmetic companies have been hit with cocamidopropyl betaine claims – including Neutrogena (4:12-cv-00426-PJH (N.D. Cal)), Johnson & Johnson (3:13-cv-00524 (D.N.J.)).  These matters settled.

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