Class Action Says Huggies ‘Natural’ Baby Products Are Toxic
By Anne Bucher
A new class action lawsuit accuses Huggies manufacturer Kimberly-Clark Corp. of falsely advertising its baby products as “natural” when they actually contain dangerous toxins.
In their class action lawsuit, Dianna Jou and Jaynry Young claim that Kimberly-Clark has capitalized on the consumer appeal of organic and environmentally friendly baby products, achieving significant profits from the sale of Huggies “natural” baby wipes and diapers that are no different from the company’s standard products.
While the plaintiffs in the Huggies class action lawsuit are upset that the company’s “natural” products are less environmentally sound than advertised, they are especially concerned that the Huggies diapers and wipes are actually toxic. They claim that the diapers are made with potentially harmful ingredients and the wipes contain chemicals that have reportedly been banned or restricted in other countries because they are so hazardous.
The plaintiffs argue in the class action lawsuit that Huggies Natural Wipes contain the allegedly hazardous substance methylisothiazolinone, which is linked to skin toxicity, immune disruption and allergic reactions. They claim that this substance may also act as a neurotoxin. Japan and Canada currently prohibit use of this substance in cosmetics.
The class action lawsuit says the Huggies wipes also contain sodium methylparaben, a substance that acts as an immune toxicant, endocrine disruptor and allergen. The plaintiffs claim that this substance has been banned by the European Union.
Kimberly-Clark is also accused of deceiving consumers by claiming that its Huggies Natural Diapers are made with organic cotton. According to the class action lawsuit, however, that the organic cotton makes up only the outside of the diapers and never actually comes in contact with the baby’s skin.
The plaintiffs also claim that while Kimberly-Clark claims to use an environmentally sound liner in its Huggies Natural Diapers, the liner contains several of the potentially harmful ingredients used in their regular diapers, including polypropylene and sodium polyacrylate.
By marketing products as “natural,” Kimberly-Clark has achieved significant profits, the Huggies class action lawsuit says. The plaintiffs allege that the premium diapers are priced nearly 30 percent higher than traditional Huggies diapers.
“Defendant’s prominent representations on the packaging for the products deceptively mislead consumers into believing that Kimberly-Clark offers two natural, environmentally sound, and relatively safer product alternatives to traditional offerings,” the class action lawsuit says. “While superficial differences do exist, these immaterial changes do not come close to matching a consumer’s reasonable expectation resulting from the company’s advertised benefits.”
The Huggies class action lawsuit is brought on behalf of all U.S. consumers who purchased Huggies Natural Wipes or Natural Diapers since 2006. The plaintiffs are asserting violations of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, the Environmental Marketing Claims Act, Unfair Competition Law and the Wisconsin Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The plaintiffs are represented by Michael R. Reese of Reese Richman LLP.
The Huggies Class Action Lawsuit is Jou, et al. v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., Case No. 13-cv-03075, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Updated July 22nd, 2013
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