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Organic Valley “French Vanilla” Half-and-Half Creamer Class Action

What does it mean when Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools identifies the flavor of its half-and-half creamer as “French Vanilla”? According to the complaint for this class action, it means the flavor is provided by vanilla from Madagascar, a former French colony. But the complaint alleges that this is not true and that the product contains little, if any, vanilla of any kind.

The class for this action is all those who live in New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, and Ohio who bought the product during the applicable statute of limitations.

On the second page of the complaint is an image of the creamer’s container, with “French Vanilla” in a large font in the middle of the front label, along with an image of vanilla pods and a vanilla blossom at the bottom. A paragraph on the side of the product says it is “flavored with organic fair trade vanilla.”

The complaint says, “Federal and state law require the Product’s front label to disclose the source of its characterizing French vanilla flavor.” The law, it says, “require[es] statements as to whether flavor is from the characterizing ingredient, natural flavor derived from the ingredient, natural flavor from natural sources other than the ingredient or artificial sources[].”

Consumers these days prefer products without additional-flavor statements, the complaint says—for example, “naturally flavored,” “other natural flavor,” “artificially flavored[.]” With this creamer, the complaint alleges, the “front label gives consumers the impression that the Product’s vanilla flavor or taste is only from the ingredient of vanilla without flavors from non-vanilla sources or artificial flavors.”

The ingredient panel for the product shows “Organic Fair Trade Vanilla Flavor, Organic Coconut Flavor” as the flavorings. According to the complaint, the main flavor compounds in coconuts are lactones, which deliver “creamy” notes, and lactones are one of the things that produce the rich, creamy flavor of vanilla.

The complaint alleges, “Analytical testing of the Product in the fall of 2020/winter of 2021 revealed it contains γ-nonalactone (a lactone), a synthetic flavoring substance according to the FDA”—that is, the Food and Drug Administration. The complaint contends, “Gamma nonalactone is from an artificial source and made through an artificial process” and “is not found in coconuts[.]”

The complaint therefore alleges that the front label of the product should say in some way that it is artificially-flavored, for example, “Artificially Flavored French Vanilla,” “Artificially Flavored Coconut” and/or “French Vanilla and Coconut, Naturally and Artificially Flavored.”

Although the vanilla is listed before the coconut, the complaint says this is based on weight. “Since the coconut flavor is more concentrated,” the complaint claims, “it can be present in a lesser amount yet still provide more flavoring to the Product than the vanilla flavor does.”

Also, the complaint says, “the analytical testing revealed the Product contained a trace or de minimis amount of vanilla, based on the absence and relative amounts of critical flavor compounds.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Organic Valley “French Vanilla” Half-and-Half Creamer Complaint

February 21, 2021

What does it mean when Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools identifies the flavor of its half-and-half creamer as “French Vanilla”? According to the complaint for this class action, it means the flavor is provided by vanilla from Madagascar, a former French colony. But the complaint alleges that this is not true and that the product contains little, if any, vanilla of any kind.

Organic Valley “French Vanilla” Half-and-Half Creamer Complaint

Case Event History

Organic Valley “French Vanilla” Half-and-Half Creamer Complaint

February 21, 2021

What does it mean when Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools identifies the flavor of its half-and-half creamer as “French Vanilla”? According to the complaint for this class action, it means the flavor is provided by vanilla from Madagascar, a former French colony. But the complaint alleges that this is not true and that the product contains little, if any, vanilla of any kind.

Organic Valley “French Vanilla” Half-and-Half Creamer Complaint
Tags: Contains Too Little of Featured Ingredients, Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels