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California judge tosses out mislabeling suit against Hain

A California federal judge has dismissed a proposed

A California federal judge has dismissed a proposed class action alleging Long Island-based Hain Celestial Group Inc. mislabeled and falsely advertised its fruit and vegetable juices as "raw" and "organic." Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

A California federal judge has dismissed a proposed class action alleging Long Island-based Hain Celestial Group, Inc. mislabeled and falsely advertised its fruit and vegetable juices as "raw" and "organic."

U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria, of the Northern District of California in San Francisco, dismissed the case with prejudice on Monday against the natural and organic food and personal care products company headquartered in Lake Success. Chhabria ruled that the plaintiffs' complaint introduced two articles into evidence that contradicted their claims that pressurization -- the process by which Hain treats its BluePrint brand juices to extend the shelf life -- kills vitamins, nutrients and enzymes, as cooking does.

"Both articles repeatedly make the point that pressurization has less impact on nutritional value than pasteurization," Chhabria wrote in his order to terminate the case on July 3. "The articles the plaintiffs cite thus contradict the allegation upon which their entire complaint hinges -- namely, that pressure treatment deprives juice of nutritional value to a similar degree as pasteurization."

The lawsuit filed in December by lead plaintiff Samuel F. Alamilla, of Santa Rosa, California, contended that the alleged misleading labeling by Hain was done in an effort to appeal to health-conscious, raw-juice-drinking consumers, who are willing to pay a "significant price premium" of up to $10 a bottle.

Alamilla's lawyers, including lead attorney Lawrence Timothy Fisher, of the firm Bursor & Fisher, based in Walnut Creek, California, did not respond to requests for comment.

"We have maintained since the beginning of the case that the allegations are wholly without merit, and we are pleased that the court has dismissed plaintiff's claims in their entirety," a statement released by Hain said. "All our BluePrint juice products are cold pressed and certified USDA Organic, and we stand behind the accuracy of our product labels."

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