Welch Foods has been hit with a class action from customers who claim that their Welch’s White Grape Juice and Concord Grape Juice contain lead and arsenic. Plaintiff Christina Labajo says that if Welch’s had disclosed on the product label that the juices contained lead and arsenic, she wouldn’t have purchased them. “Plaintiff and class members did not obtain the full value or any value of the advertised products due to Defendant’s omissions regarding the heightened levels of lead and arsenic,” the Welch’s class action lawsuit claims. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this with Scott Hardy, President of Top Class Actions.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Farron Cousins:                  Several years ago, lawsuits came about alleging that popular brands of wine were actually found to contain dangerous levels of arsenic. Well now, here we are, a few years later, and it appears that this epidemic has now spread beyond wines to other grape based beverages including Welch’s grape juice. Now class action lawsuits have arisen, trying to make Welch’s accountable for the fact that their products contain not only arsenic, but also lead.

Joining me now to talk about this is Scott Hardy from Top Class Actions. Scott, this is actually a, a fairly scary story to be perfectly honest. I mean, we’re dealing with Welch’s grape juice, one of the most popular grape juices in this country and we’re finding out now after people had been drinking it forever, that it contains dangerous levels of both arsenic and lead.

Scott Hardy:                          That’s right. And it was, you know, an eye opener for me when my team and I were talking about different stories that we might be able to cover. And this one popped up and I said, come on, this is, this is Welch’s grape juice. It’s gotta be safe. People have been given to their kids for decades and decades. Well, unfortunately, according to this class action that is just not the case. As you mentioned, the study here is showing that Welch’s grape juice boasts the white grape juice and the concord grape juice has more heavy metals than should be happening within the grape juice.

And this was a largely connected to a consumer report study that went through a whole lot of different juices, not just grape juice. They also looked at fruit punches, juice blends that, you know, could be grapes, grape juice and fruit punch, apple juice. And took a look at what heavy metals were in there. And every single juice tested had at least some portion of lead or arsenic within the juices. That didn’t matter whether it was targeted at kids, you know, whether it was organic, there was really no differentiated differentiation on which juice, if it would actually have more or less lead.

So it was, it was really an eye opener. But what these studies did find is that great juices tended to have more. Apple juices tended to have less, whether it was a hundred percent juice or not, didn’t matter. But if it was a blended juice, meaning that it might have grape juice and apple juice together, then that did tend to have more heavy metals than not. And, you know, it’s, it’s interesting that this is not been completely addressed yet when this is across the board, organic, not organic, kids, not kids, all of these had some traces of heavy metals in them.

Farron Cousins:                  That’s really terrifying to think about, especially because when you’re dealing with something like lead, you know, as, as we’ve talked about plenty of times here on Ring of Fire, dealing with Flint, Michigan. Lead’s not something that goes into your body and then just leaves next time you go to the bathroom. Lead accumulates over time. It can cause very significant and very serious cognitive problems with, with human beings. And when you add in arsenic that has also been linked to, I mean right here from Top Class Actions.

Cardio, cardiovascular disease, bladder, lung and other types of cancers. Essentially there is no safe level of arsenic for human beings to consume and yet according to consumer reports, here it is clear as day in these juices that you can go and find in your grocery store right now. I mean, these are not specialty products. It’s not some fringe product. This is something everybody knows what it is, who it is, and you see it almost every time you go to the grocery store.

Scott Hardy:                          Exactly. These are in every single grocery store across the country and these are in juice boxes, juice pouches as well. And some of these, if your child has more than one juice box a day, they are putting themselves at risk. If you as an adult are drinking this juice and have more than four ounces a day, and I don’t know who the heck actually pours a glass of only four ounces, we all, we typically pour more than that, especially if you’re an adult. You’re at risk for all of these myriad of problems from consuming these, you know, lead and arsenic. And so you really want to take a look at this.

Click on the link, look about the class action. We have a link to the consumer report studies too, which actually goes through and they show their tests of which juices they found are safe and which juices they found put you at a higher risk. And pull those from your pantry. I mean, that’s what I’m going to do. I took a look at this and, and some of the juice pouches that we used to give our kids, school’s about to start again. You know, school starts for our kids in about a week and a half. So we need to go ahead and take a look at the pantry and pull any of these products out that could hurt our kids.

Farron Cousins:                  Absolutely. And that’s a very good point. We do, you know, around the country schools starting in a week or so. You know, maybe a month, whatever it is, these juice boxes are going to start flying off the shelves. So everybody, please be aware of this problem. For more information on it, as Scott mentioned, please follow the link in the description of this video, go to Top Class Actions. Check out the link to the consumer report and educate yourself and find out what is in these boxes, which ones are okay, and which ones you need to avoid. Scott Hardy with Top Class Actions. Always a pleasure talking to you. Thank you very much.

Scott Hardy:                          You’re welcome. Thanks for your time, Farron.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com. He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced