Consumer News

CATrends: Alkaline Water

What's in your water? Does it matter?

This article highlights a trend in class-action litigation as identified by our Class-Action Tracker. Thus the name of this feature, CATrends.

One of the latest trends in wellness — the $4.2 trillion industry responsible for goat yoga — is also a trend in class-action litigation.

Proponents of alkaline water, which is water that has been treated to have a pH level greater than 7, say it can neutralize acid in the bloodstream, which, they argue, has myriad health benefits.

Critics say alkaline water is junk science and drinking it has no added health benefits over more acidic tap water, including any effect on tightly regulated pH levels in the bloodstream.

“It’s all about marketing,” Tanis Fenton, a registered dietitian and epidemiologist at Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, told the New York Times last year. “There is no science to back it up.”

Which makes it ripe for class-action litigation.

In 2018, four class-action lawsuits were filed against the marketers of four different alkaline water brands, each alleging that the products’ superior hydration claims are false and/or misleading.

A class action against Trader Joe’s alleges that the store’s alkaline water, which is advertised to have a pH of “9.5+” on the 0-14 pH scale, is “no different than drinking any bottled water or tap water.” It also claims the pH is lower than what’s advertised.

In another class action against the marketers of Core Hydration, plaintiffs assert that claims that the alkaline water is “more effective at providing hydration than other non-alkalinized, non-reduced waters, due to its pH level [of 7.4], are false and misleading.”

Other companies named in alkaline water class-action complaints in 2018 include Essentia Water and 7-Eleven. (Both had the cases against them voluntarily dismissed in early 2019.)

While not the subject of a class-action lawsuit, an alkaline water called Flow is also getting attention, if only because Gwyneth Paltrow is promoting it. Which is hardly a surprise: The Goop founder has a soft spot for pseudoscience.

Find more of our coverage on the marketing of water here.

You Might Be Interested In