Price Chopper “Vanilla Bean” Ice Cream Massachusetts and New York Class Action

The Price Chopper, Inc. sells PICS brand “vanilla bean” ice cream. But is the ice cream flavored with real vanilla beans? The complaint for this class action alleges that the labeling is misleading.

The class for this action is all those who bought the product who live in Massachusetts and New York, during the applicable statutes of limitations.

On the second page of the complaint is an image of the ice cream product at issue. The front of the carton shoes “Vanilla Bean” in large letters, beneath which, in smaller letters, is “Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.” Shown below are two scoops of ice cream with small dark speaks, presumably bits of vanilla beans.

The complaint alleges, “The representations are misleading because the Product contains artificial, non-vanilla flavors not disclosed to consumers, less vanilla than consumers expect and the vanilla bean specks only give the illusion of more vanilla but do not contribute any vanilla taste.”

Consumers these days generally prefer natural flavors, derived from the characterizing item. However, vanilla is a very popular but very expensive flavor.

The complaint makes reference to a paper by John B. Hallagan and Joanna Drake called “Labeling Vanilla Flavorings and Vanilla-Flavored Foods in the US,” from the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA). The paper notes that requirements specifically for vanilla products were set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1960s to combat “food fraud” and ensure that the customers get what they pay for.

In addition to the vanilla standards, there are special standards for ice cream. These rules are supplemented by an FDA Advisory Opinion and FDA-issued correspondence on vanilla or vanilla ice cream. What all this adds up to, the complaint claims, is that when consumers buy ice cream labeled as “vanilla,” they expect it to be flavored only with vanilla beans.

The complaint states, “All flavors from sources other than the natural characterizing flavor are considered ‘artificial flavors’ in ice cream…”

In the case of the PICS product, it says, “The Product’s representations are false, misleading and unlawful because it contains artificial vanilla flavors and less vanilla than consumers expect.” The complaint reproduces the product’s ingredient panel, which shows only two indications of flavoring. One is “Natural Flavor.” The other is “Ground Vanilla Beans.”

The complaint says, “In vanilla ice cream, the designation of an ingredient as ‘natural flavor’ means it is a combination of vanilla and non-vanilla flavor.” According to the vanilla and ice cream rules, non-vanilla flavors must be considered artificial flavors and the label must reveal this.

As to the vanilla specks, the complaint alleges that these are from “exhausted” vanilla beans from which all flavor has already been extracted. It quotes the FDA as saying, “Spent vanilla beans are considered an adulterant under … the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. We have considered spent spice ingredients adulterated because of extraction of essential ingredients.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Price Chopper “Vanilla Bean” Ice Cream Massachusetts and New York Complaint

September 12, 2020

The Price Chopper, Inc. sells PICS brand “vanilla bean” ice cream. But is the ice cream flavored with real vanilla beans? The complaint for this class action alleges that the labeling is misleading.

Price Chopper “Vanilla Bean” Ice Cream Massachusetts and New York Complaint

Case Event History

Price Chopper “Vanilla Bean” Ice Cream Massachusetts and New York Complaint

September 12, 2020

The Price Chopper, Inc. sells PICS brand “vanilla bean” ice cream. But is the ice cream flavored with real vanilla beans? The complaint for this class action alleges that the labeling is misleading.

Price Chopper “Vanilla Bean” Ice Cream Massachusetts and New York Complaint
Tags: Contains Too Little of Featured Ingredients, Contains synthetic ingredients, Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels