A Chicago-based business has sued Nestlé over claims that the five gallon jugs of Ice Mountain Water it purchased for its office dispensers were falsely advertised as containing natural spring water when in reality they were simply filled with regular tap water. It’s not that The Chicago Faucet Shoppe is unaware that many brands of bottled water on the market today tout the same stuff that flows into every kitchen sink. In fact, it appears bottled water increasingly comes from the tap. A 2009 report found that nearly half of the bottled water in PET plastic bottles came from municipal sources. The company simply contends that Nestlé is misrepresenting its product by blatantly claiming that it’s something other than what it actually is.
The Chicago Faucet Shoppe had been buying Ice Mountain Water since 2008 believing it to be true spring water containing naturally occurring minerals. It wasn’t until July 2012 that an executive at the company was tipped off to the water’s true origins by an employee. Labels on bottles of Ice Mountain Water, print ads and advertising on the side of delivery trucks say “100% Natural Spring Water” beneath picturesque images of ice-capped mountains. A marketing blurb on the Ice Mountain Water website claims that the water has been filtered through mineral-rich aquifers and can be traced back thousands of years to the last ice age when melting glaciers fed rivers and springs. The website even boasts environmental stewardship and a commitment to preserve and protect Ice Mountain Water’s natural springs.
This isn’t the first setback for Nestlé Waters, which was sued nine years ago over allegations of false labeling. That class action lawsuit, filed in Connecticut, took issue with the fact that Nestlé purported the water in bottles of Poland Spring came from an underground spring source deep in the woods in Maine, when in fact the water came from a well encircled not by nature, but by paved parking lots. In 2003, Nestlé settled the suit for $10 million in charitable contributions and discounts. The most recent suit is filed on behalf of consumers in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri who purchased Ice Mountain brand water in the five gallon jugs.