CONNECTICUT — Is your bottle of Poland Spring water really from a spring?
A lawsuit filed in federal court in Connecticut earlier this week alleges it isn’t, calling the Nestle-owned brand label that reads “100% Natural Spring Water” a “colossal fraud.”
The complaint, which seeks class-action status, claims Poland Spring parent company Nestle Waters North America is actually selling water that doesn’t meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration definition of spring water.
It also alleges water in Poland Spring-labeled bottles isn’t “collected from pristine mountain or forest springs as the images on those labels depict.” Rather, they contain “ordinary ground water” collected from wells drilled in “saturated plains or valleys where the water table is within a few feet of the earth’s surface.”
None of the eight “natural springs” Nestle purportedly uses qualifies as a genuine spring under FDA rules, the suit further claims. “To feign compliance with FDA regulations, defendant has gone so far as to build or maintain phony, man-made ‘springs’ at all seven of its other sites,” according to the complaint.
The “false and deceptive product labels” let Nestle overcharge consumers, the suit alleges.
The claims are without merit, a Nestle spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. “Poland Spring is 100 percent spring water” and meets FDA regulations that define spring water, as well as federal and state regulations governing spring water, according to the company, which also posted a response to the suit on its website.
The suit comes as Nestle seeks to expand in Maine, the Bangor Daily News reported. Nestle Waters settled a 2003 lawsuit claiming Poland Spring’s water wasn’t sourced deep in the Maine woods, according to a Bloomberg News report at the time.
Nestle has run into trouble in other parts of the country as bottled water outpaces soda as the No. 1 drink in the U.S. and as it looks for new water sources. In California, the company faced protests over water collection because of that state’s drought.
One Michigan community in April denied a Nestle request to build a new pumping station, according to an Associated Press report.
In North America, Nestle bottles or distributes 15 water brands that include Arrowhead, Deer Park, Ice Mountain and Montclair, according to a fact sheet on its website. International brands include Perrier and S. Pellegrino. It also sells purified drinking water brand Nestle Pure Life.