The plaintiffs in the case argue the company has consistently misled consumers by labeling Poland Spring water as “100% spring water,” which suggests high quality and a corresponding premium, according to the 325-page lawsuit filed in the United States District Court in Connecticut. The lawsuit seeks at least $5 million in damages for false advertising, deceptive labeling, breach of contract and several other claims.
The group argues Poland Spring water has been “a colossal fraud perpetuated against American consumers” since it was first bottled in 1993. They claim that “not one drop” of the water complies with the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of what constitutes spring water, and instead is ground water.
The FDA says spring water “shall be collected only at the spring or through a bore hole tapping the underground formation feeding the spring.” The consumers claim that the sites used by Nestlé to collect its Poland Spring water are not springs according to the FDA — arguing that several of the sites used by the company are “phony” and “man-made.”
The consumers also argue that the Poland Spring in Poland Spring, Maine, “ran dry nearly 50 years ago.”
A spokesperson for Nestlé Waters North America said: “the claims made in the lawsuit are without merit and an obvious attempt to manipulate the legal system for personal gain…It meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations defining spring water, all state regulations governing spring classification for standards of identity, as well as all federal and state regulations governing spring water collection, good manufacturing practices, product quality and labeling.”
With multiple plants in the U.S. and the current success of bottled water on the market, Nestlé Waters North America is a major part of Nestlé’s business — it created more than $4.5 billion in U.S. and Canada sales during Fiscal Year 2016, according to Nestlé’s annual report.