Posted on October 17, 2019 by Sustainable Food News

Popular organic hemp food co. sued over toxic metals

Enviro group says Manitoba Harvest did not properly label products

An environmental group filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Fresh Hemp Foods Ltd. dba Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods, alleging the world’s largest hemp food manufacturer is failing to warn consumers about the levels of lead and cadmium in some of its hemp seed products.

Founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba, more than 20 years ago, Manitoba’s product line consists of Hemp Hearts, Hemp Oil, Hemp Yeah! granola, Hemp Yeah! protein powder and Hemp Bliss milk. The company’s organic products, which are sold in over 16,000 stores at major North American retailers, are certified organic by Pro-Cert.

Publicly traded marijuana company Tilray Inc. acquired Manitoba Harvest in Februaryfor $317 million in cash and stock from Compass Diversified Holdings (NYSE: CODI). Tilray reported in August that Manitoba Harvest, which it plans to expand into the growing U.S. cannabidiol (CBD) product market, had a nearly $5 million loss on revenue of $25.5 million for the six months ended June 30.

The complaint was filed in California’s Superior Court for alleged violations of California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, known as Proposition 65.

The plaintiff in the case, San Diego, Calif.-based Environmental Research Center, Inc. (ERC), had first filed a 60-day notice in April informing Manitoba Harvest of its intent to sue unless the company ceased marketing the following six products sold by Manitoba Harvest in California and listed in the notice.

The six products included:

  • Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods Organic Hemp Yeah! Plant Protein Blend Chocolate Flavor – Lead, Cadmium
  • Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods Hemp Heart Bites Crunchy Hemp Snacks Original – Lead
  • Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods Hemp Protein Smoothie Plus Greens Vanilla Chai Flavor – Lead
  • Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods Hemp Protein Smoothie Plus Greens Mixed Berry Flavor – Lead
  • Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods Hemp Heart Bites Crunchy Hemp Snacks Cinnamon – Lead
  • Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods Organic Hemp Yeah! Max Fiber Hemp Protein Powder Chocolate – Cadmium

ERC said in the notice that it sought a written agreement with Manitoba Harvest promising to reformulate the six products “so as to eliminate further exposures to the identified chemicals, or provide appropriate warnings on the labels of these products.”

ERC also sought “an appropriate civil penalty,” and for Manitoba Harvest to “provide clear and reasonable warnings compliant with Proposition 65 to all persons located in California who purchased the above products in the last three years.”

“Such a resolution will prevent further unwarned consumer exposures to the identified chemicals, as well as an expensive and time-consuming litigation,” ERC said in the April notice.

VIDEO: Check out Manitoba Harvest’s corporate video

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