Even one high-fat meal made with coconut oil can reduce healthy body functioning, the complaint for this class action claims. Even so, the complaint alleges, Barlean’s Organic Oils, LLC markets its coconut oil as if it were healthy, when it is actually a less healthy fat choice. At issue are three Barlean’s products, its Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Culinary Coconut Oil, and Organic Butter Flavored Coconut Oil.
The class for this action is all persons in California and New York who bought the Barlean’s products above, for personal use and not for resale, at any time between January 24, 2015 and the date the class is notified.
Consumers are looking for healthier foods these days and they are willing to pay more for them. The complaint alleges that Barlean’s tries to make its coconut oils seem healthy when they are inherently unhealthy.
For example, the Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is labeled as “Nature’s Most Versatile Superfood” and also as a “Raw Whole Food.” The first is misleading, the complaint says, because superfoods are supposed to be especially beneficial for health, while coconut oil is not; and the second because coconut oil is not a “whole” food—it is oil pressed from a coconut, without the protein and fiber in the coconut flesh.
The label also says, “Coconut Oil: A Smart Fat[.] A natural source of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), coconut oil boosts the metabolism, supports the heart and immune system and provides quick energy.” The complaint alleges that this is false and misleading because “it conveys that the Product is healthful, specifically for the heart, when it is actually unhealthy and contains dangerous amounts of saturated fat, the consumption of which causes heart disease and stroke.”
Coconut oil is approximately 90% saturated fat. The complaint quotes a number of sources and studies to support its charges that saturated fat raises the levels of “bad” cholesterol in the body and increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Particularly startling is a 2006 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that found that eating even one high-fat meal containing fat from coconut oil “reduces the anti-inflammatory potential of HDL and impairs arterial endothelial function.”
The coconut oils are therefore misbranded, the complaint claims. It claims violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, New York’s Unfair and Deceptive Business Practices Act, and both states’ False Advertising Laws, among other things.