The Honest Company Sued for Falsely Labeling Baby Formula Organic

A lawsuit against Jessica Alba's company alleges Honest's Premium Infant Formula contains ingredients prohibited by federal law from organics; the brand says the accusations are false.

Jessica Alba at Honest Company Event in 2016 Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images
Uh oh—Jessica Alba's Honest Company is in trouble again for allegedly not being so honest. Last year, the star's Santa Monica-based consumer products firm was accused of using the word "natural" on items that couldn't hold up to that claim; the brand is still fighting class action suits in New York and California. Now, a California lawsuit accuses The Honest Company of falsely labeling its baby formula, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In the suit, the Organic Consumers Association says 11 ingredients in the organic baby formula, including sodium selenite, which the organization says is a known toxin, are actually prohibited by federal law from organics, meaning the labeling on Honest's Premium Infant Formula is false. The self-described "non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability" wants the company to stop marketing the formula as organic.

But Alba's Honest Company, which manufactures products from diapers, to laundry detergent, to sunscreen, maintains their formula was cleared by the FDA. It said in a statement the product was "also certified USDA Organic by an independent third party, in strict accordance with the National Organic Program." They believe the lawsuit will be dismissed once its claims are proven false.

These suits aren't the only time Honest has had to declare their innocence in the face of potentially damaging allegations. Last month the Wall Street Journal tested Honest's liquid laundry detergent and reported finding the chemical sodium lauryl sulfate, a known skin irritant, which the company promised it would never use. Honest has called out the test results as being wrong, but the paper continues to stand by its story.

No matter the outcome of this latest suit, the recent doubts cast upon the company's products are bound to have a lasting impact. In fact, the Times reports the embattled brand may be shopping for a new buyer instead of pursuing an IPO.

The problem is that when you call a brand "The Honest Company," consumers expect 100 percent, well, honesty. And as more and more claims come out that suggest the products aren't what you think they are, it's going to become harder to justify spending the added money to buy Honest products over other brands.

In fact, if you look on the company's website, it is explained why they chose the name "Honest," citing the definition of the word:

  • Free from fraud or deception, truthful – We believe in transparency and that applies to everything—from what we put into our products and how they are made to our internal operations and how we do things.
  • Genuine, real – The Honest Company was started by parents for parents. We are real tangible people, parents that understand what families need and we want to deliver on that—not some big corporation with no social consciousness that only cares about making a profit.
  • Respectable, praiseworthy – We are people with integrity and we intend on not only doing things right, but also going above and beyond to earn your respect and loyalty—making you so delighted you want to shout it from a rooftop (or tweet it from your iPhone).

We like the brand and are all in favor of what they stand for. Here's hoping the company can really live up to their own lofty aspirations.