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| 1 minute read

Is PFAS in beverages the next wave in class action lawsuits?

You've heard this many times before: PFAS is ubiquitous. So I suppose we shouldn't be surprised about any kind of PFAS class action being considered the next litigation "trend." That said, there has been a recent uptick in class actions filed in multiple jurisdictions alleging that the presence of PFAS in beverages makes representations on their labels and packaging false and/or misleading, and potentially unsafe for human consumption. 

From a business perspective, the frustrating aspect of many of these lawsuits is that the PFAS ostensibly in the beverage was not intentionally added but comes from contamination in the water and other materials used to make it. Adding to the frustration is the fact that FDA has not outlined a specific standard for safe levels of PFAS in food or beverages, so even de minimis levels detected in products have become the subject of lawsuits. And the interim health advisory levels for prominent PFAS found in drinking water established by EPA are orders of magnitude lower than the concentrations at which EPA regulates other contaminants in the environment. Moreover, the states that have proposed specific PFAS levels have done so for only a very small subset of the full range of some 12,000 PFAS in commercial distribution. 

Businesses are forced to react. Some companies are reevaluating their production processes and materials sources to try to reduce or eliminate PFAS from their products. But, again, PFAS is ubiquitous. There is only so much business can do. Does that mean these lawsuits are inevitable, not just in the beverage industry but every industry? Time will answer this and the other questions currently swirling around PFAS and its presence in our daily lives.

A [beverage] business’s exposure to PFAS-related class actions is significant and, to judge from the recent filings, may include punitive damages. In response to the legal actions and growing public awareness, some companies have started to reevaluate their production process and sourcing of materials in an effort to reduce or eliminate PFAS from their products and processes.


pfas, food and beverage, class actions, litigation