Starbucks facing lawsuits for use of pesticides

Plaintiffs file two lawsuits claiming Starbucks endangered customers in NY stores, fired staff who complained.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Starbucks
Starbucks
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Two lawsuits filed against several NYC Starbucks branches claim customers were exposed to a toxic chemical.

In one class action suit, filed Tuesday in Manhattan, ten customers claimed to have been exposed to DDVP (Dichlorvos) after purchasing products in multiple stores in the past three years.

The chemical was emitted into the air via Spectrum Brand Holdings' Hot Shot No-Pest Strips, which the Manhattan stores allegedly use to avoid infestations. Though the chemicals aim to harm insects only, the lawsuit claims they are also harmful to humans.

According to the lawsuit, CDC guidelines mandated that DDVP-containing pesticides should be used in enclosed spaces only when people are either not present or are provided with a respirator or other breathing equipment. And Hot Shot's site warns not to use the product in "kitchens, restaurants, or areas where food is prepared or served."

"Starbucks stores throughout Manhattan have for many years been permeated with a toxic pesticide called Dichlorvos, which is highly poisonous and completely unfit for use in proximity to food, beverages and people," it emphasized. "On numerous occasions over the last several years, Starbucks’ employees and third-party exterminators have informed regional and district management – both verbally and in writing – about the improper and dangerous use of No-Pest Strips throughout stores in Manhattan."

"Needless to say, Starbucks has closely held this information and has not disclosed to the public that DDVP has poisoned the environment in its stores."

DVP can cause difficulty breathing, nausea, paralysis, muscle tremors and weakness, and loss of bladder control. In severe cases, exposure may result in coma or death.

CBS News quoted Paul D'Auria, a licensed pest control technician for AVP Termite & Pest Control, who said the strips were hidden under stacks of bagels and near pastry displays "within virtually each of the more than 100 stores that he serviced" between 2013 and June 2018.

A Starbucks spokesperson said the company does not serve the food from its display cases, CBS noted.

"The lawsuits filed by the plaintiffs and their attorneys we believe lacks merit and is an attempt to incite public fear for their own financial gain," the spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch.

"We go to great things to ensure the safety of our partners and customers and we are confident they have not been put at risk." He also denied claims that anyone had been fired for voicing concerns.

The customers, who experienced distress and anxiety regarding whether "they would develop serious health issues," are seeking damages.

The second lawsuit was filed by a former Starbucks employee who claims he was fired in February last year after he complained about the strips' misuse. Both he, a technician, and a supervisor, are seeking unspecified damages.

Starbucks ended its contract with the pesticide company in June 2018.

A Starbucks spokesperson said the pesticide strips were used "in violation" of company policy and that the company ceased using them when it became aware of the issue, NBC News reported. The spokesperson also emphasized that an expert hired to assess the risks had concluded that neither the company's employees nor their customers were at risk of health issues.

Spectrum Brand Holdings did not immediately return NBC News' request for comment.




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