Neural Science

Lawsuit alleges Brita’s filters are ‘not nearly as effective’ as advertised

A California man is suing Brita over what he alleges is misleading messaging on its water filtration packaging.

On Aug. 16, Los Angeles resident Nicholas Brown filed a class-action complaint in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles. In the legal document, Brown alleges that the Brita Filter Company “falsely and misleadingly markets, advertises, labels and packages” the ability of its water pitchers to remove a number of hazardous contaminants. He is represented by Clarkson Law Firm.

The complaint, obtained by Reuters, states that “in or around early 2022” Brown purchased a Brita Everyday Water Pitcher with a Standard Filter for about $15 at a store in Los Angeles. Brown states that he bought it because of some of the statements printed on the Brita pitcher’s packaging, which he says include, in part, “FRESH FILTER = FRESHER WATER” and “Reduces 30 contaminants including Lead, Benzene, Mercury, Cadmium, Asbestos, and More.”

Brita refutes the false advertising allegation, calling the lawsuit “meritless” and “baseless.”

Brown says in the complaint he viewed the pitcher as “water treatment device” based on the product’s labels and packaging in making the purchase, but alleges that the wording on the box “was false,” adding that the pitcher he purchased “does not remove or reduce common contaminants … to below lab detectable limits.” He also alleges that the filters “fail to remove or reduce … some of the highest risk, notorious, or prevalent contaminants from drinking water,” including “forever chemicals,” or PFAS. A recent study estimated that nearly half of the nation’s tap water is contaminated with one or more PFAS chemicals.

“Unfortunately, the Products are not nearly as effective as Defendant deliberately leads people to believe, causing consumers to overpay millions and forego more effective alternatives,” the complaint states. “In this way, Defendant has not only bilked millions of dollars from consumers in ill-gotten gains, but Defendant has put the health and welfare of millions of consumers and their families at risk.” 

This lawsuit is seeking a jury trial, for Brita to change the language used to market its products to better reflect what they filter out, and monetary compensation for those who purchased a Brita product to filter out chemicals from their drinking water that Brita’s filter isn’t able to remove.

A spokesperson for the Clorox Company, Brita’s parent company, issued the following statement:

Brita takes the transparency of the water filtration options we offer seriously. Our products include a standard filtration option that improves taste and odor of tap water and is certified to reduce identified contaminants as communicated. For those consumers looking for water filters certified to reduce PFOS or PFOA, the Brita Elite pour-through and Brita Hub are both certified under NSF ANSI 53 to reduce PFOS/PFOA, as well as lead and other identified contaminants.

Brita stands firmly behind each of these third-party certifications, which use best-in-class, reproducible testing methods to certify our products reduce specific contaminants to at-or-below maximum allowable levels that are set by the EPA or other applicable regulatory authorities, under specified conditions.

The recent lawsuit does not challenge the efficacy of Brita’s filters against these certification standards. Instead, the meritless suit proposes that Brita list every contaminant that its filters do not remove. In fact, there is no such legal requirement or industry standard. This baseless lawsuit is like suing a drug manufacturer for failing to list the conditions that its drugs does not treat, or a food manufacturer for failing to list the nutrients that its food does not contain. It creates a false narrative and confuses consumers who are seeking to find filtering solutions that meet their needs.

Brita follows the industry-standard practice of clearly listing exactly which contaminants are reduced by its filters, and the methods that were used to substantiate these claims. Brita strongly believes that this approach is the most transparent and easiest for consumers to understand.

In response to Brita’s statement, Clarkson Law Firm provided with a press release, which included the following statements from managing partner Ryan Clarkson and partner Katherine A Bruce:

“Everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, has a fundamental right to clean and safe drinking water,” said Clarkson. “Lulling customers into a false sense of security about the quality and safety of their water is not only immoral, it’s illegal.”

“These chemicals pose an enormous threat to our health and our future,” said Bruce. “Brita knows the health implications at stake, but has actively chosen to deprive customers of the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe. With this lawsuit, we want to hold them accountable.”

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