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Carnation Breakfast Essentials Artificial “Vanilla” Flavor Illinois Class Action

Nestlé Healthcare Nutrition, Inc. makes a powdered nutritional drink mix in its Carnation Breakfast Essentials line, in a flavor it calls “Classic French Vanilla.” The complaint for this class action alleges that this flavor labeling is “false and misleading” because the product is not flavored with real vanilla or vanilla extract.

The class for this action is all those who live in Illinois who bought the product during the applicable statutes of limitations.

The very first page of the complaint shows an image of the product box, identifying the flavor as “Classic French Vanilla.” Directly below that are the words, “Natural Flavor with Other Natural Flavors,” and in the opposite corner of the box is a square seal saying, “No Artificial Flavors…”

According to the complaint, the designation “French Vanilla” indicates that the vanilla beans used to flavor the product are from Madagascar, which was formerly a French colony. However, the complaint alleges that the product is artificially flavored.

While real vanilla contains a good proportion of vanillin, its complex flavor depends on the presence of other substances, including methyl cinnamate and cinnamyl alcohol, p-cresol, acetovanillone, P-hydroxybenzoic acid and vanillic acid, and 4-methoxybenzaldehyde and 4-methoxybenzyl alcohol, among other things.

While vanillin can be natural, vanillin used commercially is generally not, because it is part of the more valuable vanilla extract. While there are a few other ways of making vanillin that might result in a “natural” flavor, they are expensive and generally not used.

According to the complaint, “Guaiacol is the source of 85% of vanillin.” But this cannot be described as “natural” because both its source and the processes used render it “artificial,” according to federal food regulations.

Food regulations also require that whenever vanillin is added to vanilla, it must always be identified as an artificial flavor. The complaint asserts, “Because the Product purports to have a characterizing flavor of (French/Madagascar] vanilla but is flavored predominantly from vanillin, it must be identified as ‘artificially flavored.’”

The ingredient panel lists no vanilla extract; it only lists “Natural Flavors.”

The complaint further claims that analytical testing of the product confirms that it contains artificial vanillin. It says, “This was concluded because (1) the amount of vanillin was significantly greater than it would be if it were only present because of the Product containing vanilla as part of the ‘Natural Flavor’ ingredient and (2) the vanillin was unaccompanied by the expected amounts of other aromatic compounds from the vanilla plant.”

For example, the testing showed no detectable levels of things like methyl cinnamate, cinnamyl alcohol, p-cresol, acetovanillone, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, or 4-methoxybenzaldehyde, 4-methoxybenzyl alcohol, or vanillc acid.

The complaint alleges, “The absence of these compounds also means the Product contains, at most, a trace or de minimis amount of vanilla” and should therefore be labeled as “artificially flavored.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Carnation Breakfast Essentials Artificial “Vanilla” Flavor Illinois Complaint

February 19, 2021

Nestlé Healthcare Nutrition, Inc. makes a powdered nutritional drink mix in its Carnation Breakfast Essentials line, in a flavor it calls “Classic French Vanilla.” The complaint for this class action alleges that this flavor labeling is “false and misleading” because the product is not flavored with real vanilla or vanilla extract.

Carnation Breakfast Essentials Artificial “Vanilla” Flavor Illinois Complaint

Case Event History

Carnation Breakfast Essentials Artificial “Vanilla” Flavor Illinois Complaint

February 19, 2021

Nestlé Healthcare Nutrition, Inc. makes a powdered nutritional drink mix in its Carnation Breakfast Essentials line, in a flavor it calls “Classic French Vanilla.” The complaint for this class action alleges that this flavor labeling is “false and misleading” because the product is not flavored with real vanilla or vanilla extract.

Carnation Breakfast Essentials Artificial “Vanilla” Flavor Illinois Complaint
Tags: Contains Too Little of Featured Ingredients, Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels