Vita Coco “Vanilla” Coconut Milk Deceptive Labeling NY, FL Class Action

All Market, Inc. makes coconut milk drinks under the Vita Coco brand. The complaint for this class action alleges that the Vita Coco “Vanilla” Coconut Milk is improperly labeled, because it is not flavored exclusively with substances derived from the vanilla bean.

The class for this action is all persons in New York and Florida who bought the products during the applicable statute of limitations.

An image of the Vita Coco Vanilla Coconut Milk bottle shows the word “Vanilla” in large letters beneath an image of a coconut shell of milk, a vanilla flower, and vanilla beans. The complaint alleges, “The Product is misleading because although labeled as “Vanilla,” it has less vanilla than the label represents and contains non-vanilla flavors that supply most of the vanilla taste.”

Vanilla is a perennially popular flavor, but it is also expensive and scarce. Companies that make vanilla-flavored products thus have considerable incentive to find non-vanilla means of imitating the taste of vanilla.

Consumers nowadays prefer naturally-flavored foods and are willing to pay more for them than for artificially-flavored foods. This means that manufacturers would like their products to seem to be flavored only with vanilla and not with synthetic, imitative flavoring. The complaint argues that this is what the designation “Vanilla,” does: “The Product’s designation of its characterizing flavor as ‘Vanilla’ without any qualifying terms—flavored, with other natural flavors, artificially flavored—gives consumers the impression that its entire vanilla flavor (taste sensation) is contributed by the characterizing food ingredients of vanilla beans.”

The complaint alleges that this is false: “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.”

What does the ingredient panel say? It does not mention any “vanilla” ingredients, such as vanilla extract. Instead, it says “Natural Flavors.”

Is vanilla not a “natural flavor”? The complaint quotes federal regulations as saying, “Ingredients subject to standards of identity, like vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring, are required to ‘be listed by common or usual name.’” Also, it says, “The common or usual name of these exclusively vanilla ingredients are specifically provided by their standards of identity.”

This doesn’t mean that the product contains no vanilla at all. Some products use something called “Vanilla with Other Natural Flavor” (Vanilla WONF) as the flavoring. However, the complaint claims, “The standards of identity for vanilla ingredients do not allow the addition of non-vanilla natural flavors.”

In short, the complaint alleges that the flavoring of the coconut milk is not exclusively from vanilla, but that the product does not meet vanilla flavor labeling regulations.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Vita Coco “Vanilla” Coconut Milk Deceptive Labeling NY, FL Complaint

April 6, 2020

All Market, Inc. makes coconut milk drinks under the Vita Coco brand. The complaint for this class action alleges that the Vita Coco “Vanilla” Coconut Milk is improperly labeled, because it is not flavored exclusively with substances derived from the vanilla bean.

Vita Coco “Vanilla” Coconut Milk Deceptive Labeling NY, FL Complaint

Case Event History

Vita Coco “Vanilla” Coconut Milk Deceptive Labeling NY, FL Complaint

April 6, 2020

All Market, Inc. makes coconut milk drinks under the Vita Coco brand. The complaint for this class action alleges that the Vita Coco “Vanilla” Coconut Milk is improperly labeled, because it is not flavored exclusively with substances derived from the vanilla bean.

Vita Coco “Vanilla” Coconut Milk Deceptive Labeling NY, FL Complaint
Tags: Contains Too Little of Featured Ingredients, Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels