Wegmans “Vanilla” Soymilk Deceptive Labeling NY, RI Class Action

Vanilla is the only flavor with its own standard of identity. The complaint for this class action alleges that the “vanilla” soymilk sold by Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. should not be labeled as “vanilla” without some kind of qualification.

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

An image of the carton of Wegmans Organic Vanilla Soymilk product appears in the complaint, with the word “Vanilla” appearing prominently above “Soymilk.” The complaint alleges that despite this, the product “has less vanilla than the label represents and its vanilla taste is provided mainly by non-vanilla flavors, not disclosed to consumers on the front label as required by law and consumer expectations.”

Vanilla is both expensive and scarce, but it’s also a very popular flavor. This means that makers of vanilla-flavored products have incentive to find other sources of a vanilla or vanilla-like flavoring.

The complaint alleges that the designation of the soymilk as “vanilla” in flavor “gives consumers the impression that its entire vanilla flavor (taste sensation) is contributed by the characterizing food ingredient of vanilla beans.” However, the complaint says, this impression is “false, deceptive and misleading because the product contains non-vanilla flavors which imitate and extend vanilla but are not derived from the vanilla bean” which means that the flavoring is provided, at least in part, by non-vanilla ingredients.

What does the ingredient panel say? It does not list any kind of vanilla; it mentions only “Natural Flavors.” The complaint claims that this does not mean vanilla because “[i]ngredients subject to standards of identity, like vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring, are required to eb ‘listed by common or usual name.’” The complaint alleges that this means that if the flavor comes from, say, vanilla extract, then the ingredient label must list vanilla extract and not just the generic term “Natural Flavors.”

The standards for vanilla products, the complaint says, “do not allow the addition of non-vanilla natural flavors.” In particular, vanillin, which simulates the taste of vanilla, cannot be considered a natural flavor.

An example of another company’s vanilla soymilk product is shown, with an ingredient label that lists vanilla extract. The complaint quotes the Code of Federal Regulations as saying, “The name shall be uniform among all identical or similar products and may not be confusingly similar to the name of any other food that is not reasonably encompassed within the same name. Each class or subclass of food shall be given its own common or usual name that states, in clear terms, what it is in a way that distinguishes it from different foods.”

The complaint alleges that the designation of the Wegmans product as “Vanilla Soymilk,” even though it does not appear to contain flavoring from the vanilla bean, is improper.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Wegmans “Vanilla” Soymilk Deceptive Labeling NY, RI Complaint

April 6, 2020

Vanilla is the only flavor with its own standard of identity. The complaint for this class action alleges that the “vanilla” soymilk sold by Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. should not be labeled as “vanilla” without some kind of qualification.

Wegmans “Vanilla” Soymilk Deceptive Labeling NY, RI Complaint

Case Event History

Wegmans “Vanilla” Soymilk Deceptive Labeling NY, RI Complaint

April 6, 2020

Vanilla is the only flavor with its own standard of identity. The complaint for this class action alleges that the “vanilla” soymilk sold by Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. should not be labeled as “vanilla” without some kind of qualification.

Wegmans “Vanilla” Soymilk Deceptive Labeling NY, RI Complaint
Tags: Contains Too Little of Featured Ingredients, Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels