Whole Foods Overloads Supplements With B12, Suit Says

By Rachel Graf

Law360, New York (January 22, 2018, 7:23 PM EST) -- Whole Foods has been hit with a proposed class action in California alleging the company's consumable liquid B vitamin supplements contain higher amounts of vitamin B12 than advertised.

In his suit Thursday, consumer Matthew Palmer says that the supplements contain "extreme excess amounts of vitamin B" that have caused consumers to overpay for the products or to overconsume B vitamins. If the consumers had known the true amount of liquid B12 per serving, they would not have purchased these products, according to the complaint, which was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

"As a result of defendant's mislabeled products, plaintiff and other consumers similarly situated consumed amounts of B vitamins that far exceeded the amount they intended to consume," the complaint says.

Palmer says he bought three of Whole Foods Markets IP LP's liquid B vitamin supplements in January 2017, which allegedly claimed to have 500 or 1,000 micrograms of liquid vitamin B12 per serving. The supplements actually contained an "unreasonable excess" of vitamin B12 per serving, the suit says.

Vitamin B12 purportedly benefits the metabolism, blood cells and nerves, and a B12 deficiency could contribute to stomach and intestinal issues, low counts of red blood cells, and nerve damage, according to the suit.

Palmer says he would not have purchased the products had Whole Foods not made false statements on product labels and advertisements. The company should have known that its products contained more vitamin B than advertised, but concealed this information to increase sales, the suit alleges.

Whole Foods took advantage of reasonable consumers' trust, according to the complaint.

"The reasonable consumer would have been misled into believing defendant's B vitamin supplements contain and maintain the specified amount of B vitamin per serving, when defendant's products actually contain an unreasonable excess of vitamin B12 per serving, which impacts a reasonable consumer's dietary choices," the suit says.

Palmer aims to represent a class of people in California who bought at least one of Whole Foods' liquid vitamin B supplements in the past four years. The suit seeks equitable and injunctive relief and restitution and disgorgement for alleged violations of California laws.

A Whole Foods representative did not respond Monday to a request for comment. Counsel for Palmer declined to comment.

Palmer is represented by Abbas Kazerounian and Jason Ibey of Kazerouni Law Group APC and Joshua B. Swigart of Hyde & Swigart.

Counsel information for Whole Foods was not available Monday.

The suit is Palmer v. Whole Foods Market IP LP, case number BC690514, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

--Editing by Edrienne Su.