Almond Breeze “Vanilla” Almondmilk and Coconut Milk Drink Class Action

Blue Diamond Growers sells a blend of almondmilk and coconut milk purported to be “Vanilla with other natural flavors” under its Almond Breeze brand. The complaint for this class action alleges that the product is improperly labeled: “The unqualified, prominent and conspicuous representations as ‘Vanilla’ [are] false, deceptive and misleading because the product contains non-vanilla flavors which imitate and extend vanilla but are not derived from the vanilla bean, yet these flavors are not disclosed to consumers as required and expected.”

The class for this action consists of all those who bought the product in New York or the other forty-nine states, during the applicable statutes of limitations.

The image in the complaint shows a carton of the product labeled as “Vanilla with other natural flavors.”

Vanilla is a popular flavor, in high demand, but it is also expensive and scarce. Makers of vanilla-flavored products therefore have an incentive to use non-vanilla ingredients to substitute for vanilla.

One such ingredient is vanillin, which has been in use since the mid-1800s. According to the complaint, however, “Today, only 1-2% of vanillin in commercial use is vanillin obtained from the vanilla plant, which means that almost all vanillin has no connection to the vanilla bean.” Not only that: labels must reveal when vanillin is used, identifying it as an artificial flavor.

What does the ingredient label for the product say? It says the product contains “Natural Flavors.” However, the complaint alleges that this does not refer to standardized vanilla ingredients, such as vanilla extract, because labeling regulations require that these ingredients be identified by their common or usual names instead of by this kind of a generic term.

According to the complaint, when a company adds “‘Other Natural Flavors’ to a standardized exclusively vanilla ingredient—vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring—consumers are not receiving the same high quality and expensive ingredient and are unaccustomed to such a pairing.” The complaint says that the problem is that this does not tell the consumer how much of the flavor comes from vanilla and how much from non-vanilla vanillin.

A vanillin made through a natural process like fermentation, the complaint says, could be listed in the ingredients as a “‘vanillin’ or ‘natural flavor’ but it should not be done in a way to imply that it is a ‘natural vanilla flavor’ because it is not derived from vanilla beans.” The complaint here is quoting from a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) letter on labeling which is attached to the complaint as an exhibit.

The complaint claims, “Use of the term ‘other natural flavors’ on the front label is misleading because in the context of vanilla, vanillin has never been a ‘natural flavor.’” It further alleges, “The use of non-vanilla vanillin in the Products is used to boost the trace amount of real vanilla actually present, so consumers believe the taste is from real natural vanilla beans instead of vanillin.” However, the complaint says, food flavored with vanilla-vanillin combinations are supposed to carry the disclaimer, “contains vanillin, an artificial flavor (or flavoring).”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Almond Breeze “Vanilla” Almondmilk and Coconut Milk Drink Complaint

March 12, 2020

Blue Diamond Growers sells a blend of almondmilk and coconut milk purported to be “Vanilla with other natural flavors” under its Almond Breeze brand. The complaint for this class action alleges that the product is improperly labeled: “The unqualified, prominent and conspicuous representations as ‘Vanilla’ [are] false, deceptive and misleading because the product contains non-vanilla flavors which imitate and extend vanilla but are not derived from the vanilla bean, yet these flavors are not disclosed to consumers as required and expected.”

Almond Breeze “Vanilla” Almondmilk and Coconut Milk Drink Complaint

Case Event History

Almond Breeze “Vanilla” Almondmilk and Coconut Milk Drink Complaint

March 12, 2020

Blue Diamond Growers sells a blend of almondmilk and coconut milk purported to be “Vanilla with other natural flavors” under its Almond Breeze brand. The complaint for this class action alleges that the product is improperly labeled: “The unqualified, prominent and conspicuous representations as ‘Vanilla’ [are] false, deceptive and misleading because the product contains non-vanilla flavors which imitate and extend vanilla but are not derived from the vanilla bean, yet these flavors are not disclosed to consumers as required and expected.”

Almond Breeze “Vanilla” Almondmilk and Coconut Milk Drink Complaint
Tags: Contains Too Little of Featured Ingredients, Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels