Kyla Asbury Sep. 1, 2014, 2:27pm

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) – A class action lawsuit has been filed against Whole Foods Market after consumers claimed it misled purchasers into believing its products effectively treat the flu, coughing and other symptoms. 

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods nationally markets, advertises, distributes and sells several products under its “365 Be Well” brand as relieving adults’ and children’s medical symptoms.

Whole Foods’ claims are welcomed by “hundreds of thousands of consumers afflicted by ailments the products supposedly treat or cure,” according to a complaint filed Aug. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Mario Herazo, Yaneris Almonte, Deniele Charun and Kenan Rasabi claim they purchased Whole Foods’ products without receiving any of the promised benefits.

They claim Whole Foods’ “homeopathic products are worthless” and Whole Foods “unfairly, deceptively and unjustly enriches itself on the backs of consumers in order to turn a corporate profit.”

Consumers unwittingly spend millions of dollars annually on products containing ingredients, some of them toxic, that are so diluted they have no biological effect on the human body, according to the suit.

The products at issue include Cough Ease for Kids, Cough Ease, Flu Ease and Arnica Montana 30C, which one of the plaintiffs allegedly bought to help with pain, swelling and stiffness from a bruise.

The plaintiffs claims homeopathic drugs are not evaluated by the FDA, leading to confusion.

Because Whole Foods’ packaging and advertising only mentions “homeopathic medicine” in fine print, “this confusion crosses the line into deception,” the complaint states.

“Whole Foods is not only taking advantage of consumers’ desire for natural medicine, but also deceiving consumers into believing that Whole Foods’ products are effective, regulated drugs that are held to the same standards as true medical drugs and nonhomeopathic OTC drugs,” the complaint states.

The plaintiffs claim Whole Foods violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, which prohibits unfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in conduct of any trade or commerce.

The plaintiffs are seeking class certification and compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are represented by Thomas P. O’Connell of Thomas P. O’Connell PA.

The case has been assigned to District Judge Federico A. Moreno.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida case number: 0:14-cv-61909


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