Chiquita Sued By Seattle Based Non-Profit WASH For Deceptive Advertising

   Chiquita Sued By Seattle Based Non-Profit WASH For Deceptive Advertising

LAWSUIT ALLEGES DECEPTIVE MARKETING PRACTICES, POOR ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP,
HARM TO RESIDENTS NEAR LARGE GUATEMALA BANANA PLANTATION

PR Newswire

SEATTLE, Aug. 28, 2014

SEATTLE, Aug. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A Consumer Protection Act lawsuit has
been filed against Chiquita Brands International (CQB), alleging unfair and
deceptive marketing practices.

The lawsuit, filed by Seattle based Water and Sanitation Health (WASH)
(Federal District Court Case number: 2:14-CV-00010-RAJ) claims that Chiquita
"advertises that its bananas are farmed in an ecologically friendly and
sustainable manner."

According to Eric John Harrison, founder of Water and Sanitation Health, "That
is far from the truth, and bananas sold to U.S. consumers should be marketed
truthfully and legally."

"Chiquita sells millions of pounds of bananas that are produced in ways that
destroy natural ecosystems and contaminate the drinking water of local
communities living next to Chiquita's largest Guatemalan supplier," Harrison
claims. "The pesticides and fungicides used on these Chiquita-contracted
plantations are toxic, and the aerial application falls on homes, schools, and
residents." (see photos below)

The lawsuit states that drinking and river water near the plantation have
become polluted from the use of pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers, and
has contaminated the drinking water in six local communities, affecting some
7200 Guatemalan residents.

COBIGUA, Chiquita's largest contracted Guatemalan supplier, sells millions of
pounds of bananas to Chiquita annually. "Trucks bear Chiquita's logo, signs
near the plantations bear Chiquita's logo, and though Chiquita may not own the
plantation property, the Chiquita affiliation is undeniable," Harrison says.

It is a deception that even the well-known Rainforest Alliance was unaware of
until recently. "When I brought this to their attention, both they and
Chiquita became very uncomfortable," Harrison notes. "If consumers believe the
little-green-frog endorsements given by the Rainforest Alliance are true, then
the Rainforest Alliance ought to be certain that those products are indeed
eco-friendly and farmed in a sustainable, non-polluting, non-harmful manner as
they claim. Otherwise, why should consumers think that the Rainforest Alliance
is anything more than a marketing tool?"

Since being notified by WASH, the Rainforest Alliance has taken some marketing
materials for Chiquita Brands International (NYSE: CQB) off of their site, but
Harrison's opinion is that "more must be done to curb Chiquita's deceptive
marketing practices."

For example, on one of the Rainforest Alliances' linked Chiquita pages titled
"The Chiquita Difference," the text reads "It's only natural that we operate
responsibly in the communities where we live and work. That's why our banana
farms are Rainforest Alliance Certified™, meaning they meet the rigorous
standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network, a coalition of environmental
groups in eight tropical nations."

Harrison said that he believes that the Rainforest Alliance is rethinking
their endorsement, but, "as of today, the Rainforest Alliance still gives the
impression that Chiquita, one of their largest donors, sells bananas that are
grown in a manner that is safe to the environment and to local communities. I
doubt the people living in six Guatemalan villages living adjacent to the
plantation supplying Chiquita would agree."

The complaint outlines specifics: 420 gallons of various fungicides are spread
over one plantation every 8 – 10 days; there are no buffer zones around the
plantations to keep the overspray from falling on homes, residents, and
schools; the drinking water in adjacent communities contains nitrites and
heavy metals at 10-times the recommended levels recommended by the World
Health Organization (WHO).

WASH is represented by Seattle attorney Steve Berman of Hagens Berman, LLP.
Trial is scheduled to begin in July, 2015. For further information or
interview, contact Eric John Harrison, Water and Sanitation Health, (206)
388-8092, or India Simmons, PR Ink, inc. (206) 229-2501.

(To read a copy of the legal complaint against Chiquita International, go to:
http://waterandsanitationhealth.com/guatemala/)

To learn more about Water and Sanitation Health (WASH), go to
www.WaterandSanitationHealth.org

Some photos contained in the legal complaint are shown below.

Plantation uses aerial fumigation with no buffer zone bordering an elementary
school, municipality of Tiquisate, department of Esquintla, Guatemala.

Plantation uses aerial fumigation with no buffer zone bordering an elementary
school, municipality of Tiquisate, department of Esquintla, Guatemala.

Polluted open waterway bordering schools and homes, municipality of Tiquisate,
department of Esquintla, Guatemala.

Polluted open waterway bordering schools and homes, municipality of Tiquisate,
department of Esquintla, Guatemala.

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140828/140817
Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140828/140816

SOURCE WASH

Website: http://www.WaterandSanitationHealth.org
 
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