- Written by Haaretz Haaretz
- Published: 05 April 2015 05 April 2015
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The manufacturer of home carbonation systems, which has been the target of anti-Israel boycotts, was accused of misrepresentation in the U.S. state of Oregon.
SodaStream, the Israeli manufacturer of home carbonation systems, has changed its product labeling to “Made in the West Bank” following complaints by human rights activists in the Unites States.
The company's main production facility is in the industrial zone of Ma'aleh Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, where it employs Palestinian workers.
The facility's location has made SodaStream a target of the global anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and put the company at odds with European policies blocking the import of products made in West Bank settlements.
In May 2014, a coalition of human rights activists in the U.S. state of Oregon complained to the Oregon Department of Justice that the company was violating the state's Fair Trade Practices Act by labeling its products as “Made in Israel.”
The complaint was forwarded to SodaStream, which replied by saying that the labels would be changed to "Made in the West Bank" with immediate effect. The new labels have now begun appearing on SodaStream boxes in Oregon retail outlets, according to the International Middle East Media Center.
Oregon’s Fair Trade Practices Act is a consumer protection law that makes false representations and false advertising of a consumer product illegal. The Act also holds retail stores responsible if they knowingly sell a product that is “misrepresented.”
The coalition has also filed an official complaint with the U.S. Customs & Border Control Agency, on the grounds that the false labeling also violates U.S. Customs regulations. That complaint, filed in November 2014, is presently under investigation.
“This appears to be the first time that an Israeli settlement manufacturer has corrected its labels for products sold in the United States,” said activist Rod Such of the PDX Boycott Occupation Soda! Coalition based in Portland, Oregon.
"Many people of conscience refuse to purchase products made in Israel's illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, but in the case of SodaStream they were deceived by false labeling that claimed the products were produced within Israel’s internationally recognized borders.”
SodaStream announced last October that it would be closing its Ma'aleh Adumim plant in 2015 as part of a plan to boost growth.
“We are working with the Israeli government to secure work permits for our Palestinian employees,” CEO Daniel Birnbaum said.
SodaStream's revenues and profit have plummeted recently due to weak sales of its home soda machines in the U.S. The drop has been attributed to a move among American consumers to healthier drinks, such as juices and teas.