Top Class Actions viewers are receiving settlement checks in the mail from a Whole Foods kombucha settlement, worth as much as $24.92.
Class Members included all those individuals who purchased some Health-Ade Kombucha beverages between March 6, 2014 and May 24, 2019.
Kombucha flavors included in the settlement include Beet, Blood Orange-Carrot-Ginger, California Grape, Cayenne Cleanse, Ginger-Lemon, Holiday Cheers, Jalapeño-Kiwi-Cucumber, Maca-Berry, Matcha + Cold Brew Coffee, The Original, Pink Lady Apple, Plum, Pomegranate, Power Greens, Reishi-Chocolate, and Sweet Thorn.
Kombucha makers Health-Ade and retailer Whole Foods agreed to pay nearly $4 million to end claims that their kombucha beverages contained alcohol, though they were advertised as non-alcoholic.
The settlement provided a refund for customers who purchased the kombucha, in the amount of $4 per bottle. Customers who provided proof of their purchase were eligible to receive up to $80, and those who did not have proof of purchase were eligible to receive up to $40.
For their role in the Whole Foods Health-Ade kombucha class action lawsuit, named plaintiffs each received an award of $2,000.
Per the terms of the settlement deal, Health-Ade agreed to change the label on its kombucha products to warn consumers — especially pregnant and breast-feeding consumers — that the beverages could contain trace amounts of alcohol.
Health-Ade has also agreed to alter its recipe, to better control the amount of alcohol produced during the fermentation process that is necessary to make kombucha, and to test the product for alcohol amounts.
The deadline to file a claim in the Whole Foods kombucha false advertising class action lawsuit was Aug. 27, 2019.
Gabriella Bayol first filed the Whole Foods kombucha class action lawsuit in 2018, and later, Bruce Verbeck joined. The two customers argued that the Health-Ade Kombucha beverages, sold by Whole Foods, contained more sugar and alcohol than advertised.
Allegedly, the excess sugar caused the fermentation process to produce more alcohol than advertised. According to Bayol and Verbeck — the beverages contained more than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume, which is more than the amount allowed by federal law for a beverage to be labeled as non-alcoholic.
The Whole Foods Health-Ade kombucha class action lawsuit argued that this alcohol content could be harmful to consumers, especially because consumers may choose to drink kombucha because they are trying to avoid alcohol, including those who are pregnant, breast-feeding, or those who are struggling with an alcohol addiction.
Additionally, Bayol and Verbeck argue that all purchasers were subjected to false advertising because of the kombucha’s inaccurate labeling.
Do you drink kombucha? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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The customers are represented by L. Timothy Fisher, Joel D. Smith, Yeremey Krivoshey and Scott A. Bursor of Bursor & Fisher PC.
The Whole Foods Kombucha Alcohol Content Class Action Lawsuit is Gabriela Bayol, et al. v. Health-Ade LLC, et al., Case No. 3:18-cv-01462, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
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