Organic Consumers Association Sues Twinings Tea for False and Misleading Advertising

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) sued Twinings North America, Inc. and its parent company, Associated British Foods PLC, for the deceptive labeling, marketing and sale of Twinings Tea of London products. The suit was filed on behalf of OCA by Richman Law Group, in D.C. Superior Court under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

“No reasonable consumer who reads the words ‘pure’ and ‘100% natural ingredients,’ whether on Twinings’ packaging or in other advertising or marketing communications, such as the company’s website, would expect those products to contain residues of glyphosate, a synthetic herbicide, and unnatural insecticides,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA co-founder and international director.

“Consumer surveys consistently bear out the fact that health-conscious shoppers rely on labels and online research to make buying decisions. Twinings should have to clean up its supply chain so that its products are in fact ‘pure’ and ‘100% natural,’ or be forced to stop making those claims,” Cummins said.

The suit specifically calls out Twinings Green Tea, and Green Tea with Mint, products. 

Tests conducted by an independent laboratory using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry revealed the amount of glyphosate levels in the Twinings Tea samples to be up to 0.332 milligrams per kilogram. The exact source of the glyphosate residue in the samples is known only to Twinings and its suppliers, according to the suit.

Glyphosate was classified in March 2015 by the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Cancer Research as a “probable human carcinogen.”

Testing also revealed residues of two synthetic insecticides: thiacloprid, a neonicotinoid; and bifenthrin, a pyrethroid. Both chemicals are known neurotoxins.

The suit alleges that by deceiving consumers about the nature, quality and/or ingredients of its products, Twinings is able to sell a greater volume of products, to charge higher prices for the products, and to take away market share from competing products, thereby increasing its own sales and profits. 

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