Consumer Law

Poland Spring bottled water isn't from a spring, lawsuit alleges

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Nestle’s Poland Spring bottled water is misleading consumers with claims that its product is “100 percent natural spring water,” according to allegations in a would-be class action lawsuit.

The suit (PDF), filed earlier this month in Connecticut federal court, says Poland Spring comes from “common groundwater” and does not comply with the Food and Drug Administration definition of spring water, report the Washington Post, the Associated Press and Courthouse News Service.

The suit says Nestle labels depict “pristine scenes” that are not an accurate portrayal. The suit alleges the mislabeling amounts to fraud and breach of contract, and also violates state laws protecting consumers.

According to the suit, FDA regulations require bottled spring water to be collected either at the source of a naturally occurring spring, or from a well supplying a natural spring. There is no “photographic proof” that Nestle’s eight “natural spring” sites exist, the suit said.

The suit alleges the spring in Poland Spring, Maine, ran dry nearly 50 years ago, and the so-called spring used there by Nestle is at the bottom of a lake. At its seven other sites, Nestle has created artificial springs with pipes and plastic tubes that transport water into wetlands, the suit alleges.

The lead plaintiff is Mark Patane, who says he wouldn’t have spent hundreds of dollars on Poland Spring water if he had known it was ordinary groundwater.

Nestle said in the statement that the lawsuit claims “are without merit and an obvious attempt to manipulate the legal system for personal gain.” The statement said Poland Spring “is 100 percent spring water” that meets FDA regulations defining spring water, as well as other state and federal regulations. “We remain highly confident in our legal position,” the statement also says.

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