This week, Tom’s of Maine Inc. was hit with a proposed class action in Illinois state court alleging that its “natural” toothpaste claims are false and misleading. According to the lawsuit, the toothpaste maker’s products actually contain synthetic ingredients and chemicals, despite their “natural” claims.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that while Tom’s sold its various toothpaste products labeled as “natural,” the toothpastes actually contained some combination of synthetic ingredients, including Sorbitol, Hydrated Silica, Xylitol, Glycerin, and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. The suit addresses the “natural” claims made on the labeling of more than 20 Tom’s toothpastes as well as the different synthetic processes and chemical reactions involved in the production of the products.
The suit’s lead plaintiff claimed that as a result of Tom’s’ “intentional, deceitful practice of falsely labeling the products as natural when they are not,” he and other class members not only paid a premium price for a non-premium product, but were deprived of their protected interest to choose the type and quality of products they ingest. They argued that Tom’s knew the products were not natural, yet chose to label them as such because it did not believe its customers were well educated enough to know the difference.
Brushing up on Tom’s toothpaste history, this isn’t the first time the company has seen consumers take issue with its “natural” toothpaste labeling. In 2015, Tom’s agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle a similar proposed class action involving its “natural”-labeled toothpaste. There, Tom’s agreed to provide enhanced disclosures on its website about its products’ ingredients and explain the company’s definition of “natural.” However, a few years later in 2020, a class of consumers in California brought a similar lawsuit alleging they were deceived by the toothpaste’s “natural” claims.
In the current suit, plaintiffs are seeking both injunctive relief and an unspecified amount of damages.
False advertising suits involving “natural” or “all natural” claims are ever-growing – we’ve seen them in the context of snack bars, potato chips, and even pet food, to name a few So, advertisers, check your ingredients and take caution in labeling your products as “natural” if they aren’t.
Daly et al. v. Tom's of Maine Inc., case number 2022-CH-11101, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.
"As a result of Defendant's fraudulent labeling, Plaintiff and the Class have been misled into purchasing products that did not provide them with the benefit of the bargain they paid money for, namely that the Products would be natural"