November 11, 2021
By: Randal Shaheen and Andrea Cohen
A new false advertising case against the maker of Alba Botanica sunscreen demonstrates the risks of marketing a company’s environmental credentials. In a recent article, “The Difficult Art of Advertising Carbon Reductions,” Linda Goldstein and Randal Shaheen of BakerHostetler discussed the potential application of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act’s prohibition on “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” against companies that claim to offer green products or advertise their carbon reductions. The Alba Botanica case shows how consumers can bring claims under similar state statutes and offers more reason for companies to ensure that their environmental claims are adequately substantiated or qualified.
In her Complaint filed October 20, 2021, in the Southern District of California (Case No. 3:21-cv-01794), Heidi Anderberg, on behalf of herself and a proposed class, alleges that Hain Celestial Group violated California law by falsely advertising its Alba Botanica sunscreen as “reef-friendly,” when in fact the sunscreen contains chemicals that can allegedly damage coral reefs and other marine life (and have been banned in parts of the U.S. for that reason). She contends that she and other consumers paid more for Alba products over cheaper alternatives because they believed them to be safe for the environment.