Jessica Alba was perhaps setting herself up for trouble when she called her business the Honest Company. The company makes a range of products touted as clean and pure — honest, as it were — but it has repeatedly been the target of complaints and lawsuits from consumers. Most recently the actress faced questions about Honest Company’s organic baby food, the subject of another suit while on a panel at a conference.
Alba was inspired to start the company after her baby’s birth made her conscious of chemicals in household products, and Honest has made a big name, very fast, based no doubt on the actress’s great success. But it is the company transparent? Is it honest?
Scrutinizing the Labels
Last month the Honest Company was sued by the Organic Consumers Association in Los Angeles County Court for deceptive labeling. According to the suit, Honest’s organic baby food is not organic and contains 11 “synthetic ingredients not allowed in organic food by federal law.”
According to the report, the plaintiffs write, “Of the 40 ingredients … more than a quarter are synthetic substances that are not allowed in organic products … some … are federally regulated as hazardous compounds. At least one of these ingredients is irradiated … some have not been assessed as safe for human foods, much less for infant formulas.”
Refuting the Claims
The Honest Company responded to the lawsuit and to the questions aimed at the founder at last week’s conference the same way, reiterating that the product in question was approved by federal authorities. The real issue in the lawsuit, the company says, is federal organic standards. They believe Alba’s high profile makes her an easy target for criticism and believe the suit will soon be dismissed.
The actress, who can definitely deliver a line, was silent on the matter at TechCrunch Direct, deferring to her marketing people, according to Page Six. The company’s chief marketing officer, Chris Thorne, responded for the actress when Alba was asked about the baby food lawsuit. “We stand by that product,” Thorne said. “Jessica’s name brings a lot of attention to this issue. It’s a very smart strategy by some of these groups to draw attention to what they’re trying to do. It’s unfortunate for us.”
Thorne also responded to criticism of the company’s sunscreen, which was the target of a recent lawsuit too, reportedly saying, “We talked to … all the consumers that had issues.”
For a transparent company, that seems like a slightly shady response. The question, of course, is not whether the company talked. The question is whether it talked honestly.
- Proving Fault in a Product Liability Case (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
- You Can Now Sue Over Organic Labels in California (FindLaw’s California Caselaw Blog)
- Sustainable? Organic? Who’s Checking Ecolabels? (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
- Starting an Earth-Friendly Business (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)