Wholesome Pantry Unsweetened “Vanilla” Almondmilk New York Class Action

“To prevent consumer deception when purchasing products labeled as ‘vanilla,’ standards of identity were established which fixed the composition of vanilla ingredients.” So says the complaint for this class action, which brings suit against Wakefern Food Corp. The complaint alleges that the company’s Wholesome Pantry brand Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk product misleads consumers “became it contains less vanilla than expected relative to its total flavoring and its vanilla taste is mainly provided by non-vanilla flavors, not disclosed to consumers.”

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

Vanilla has its own standards of identity that must be adhered to before a product can be labeled simply as “Vanilla,” without qualification.

The standards were necessary because vanilla is both in high demand and in short supply, and it is the second-most expensive flavoring (after saffron). Food and beverage manufacturers have long looked for ways to simulate or extend the taste of vanilla without spending the money necessary to purchase sufficient real vanilla flavoring.

An image of the Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk is reproduced in the early pages of the complaint, showing the word “Vanilla” along with a vanilla blossom and two vanilla pods.

The complaint alleges, “Where a product’s front label lacks terms such as ‘flavored,’ ‘naturally flavored,’ ‘artificial flavors’ and ‘with other natural flavors,’ consumers will expect the flavor is derived exclusively from the characterizing food ingredient.”

The complaint quotes the Code of Federal Regulations as saying that when a food is “commonly expected to contain a characterizing food ingredient, e.g., strawberries in ‘strawberry shortcake’” and it contains enough of that substance to “independently characterize the food,” then its label will say only “strawberry” or the like, without qualifications.

However, the complaint reproduces the almondmilk’s ingredient panel, which does not show any vanilla. Instead, it lists “Natural Flavor.”

This cannot represent vanilla, the complaint argues, since ingredients must be listed “by common or usual name,” which, in the case of vanilla, means “vanilla extract” or “vanilla flavoring.” Except in certain cases, the name cannot be a collective or generic name.

The complaint alleges that the “Natural Flavor” referred to is what is called “Vanilla with Other Natural Flavorings,” or Vanilla WONF. Vanilla WONF contains some vanilla but enhances it with other natural flavorings, thereby allowing the food manufacturer to use less vanilla. The proper front-label designation for this, the complaint says, would be “Vanilla with Other Natural Flavor.”

Also, the complaint alleges that the product contains vanillin, which is an artificial flavor.

The complaint contends that the product is mislabeled and that this mislabeling allowed the company to sell more of the product at a higher price than it would have if the product were properly labeled.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Wholesome Pantry Unsweetened “Vanilla” Almondmilk New York Complaint

June 7, 2020

“To prevent consumer deception when purchasing products labeled as ‘vanilla,’ standards of identity were established which fixed the composition of vanilla ingredients.” So says the complaint for this class action, which brings suit against Wakefern Food Corp. The complaint alleges that the company’s Wholesome Pantry brand Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk product misleads consumers “became it contains less vanilla than expected relative to its total flavoring and its vanilla taste is mainly provided by non-vanilla flavors, not disclosed to consumers.”

Wholesome Pantry Unsweetened “Vanilla” Almondmilk New York Complaint

Case Event History

Wholesome Pantry Unsweetened “Vanilla” Almondmilk New York Complaint

June 7, 2020

“To prevent consumer deception when purchasing products labeled as ‘vanilla,’ standards of identity were established which fixed the composition of vanilla ingredients.” So says the complaint for this class action, which brings suit against Wakefern Food Corp. The complaint alleges that the company’s Wholesome Pantry brand Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk product misleads consumers “became it contains less vanilla than expected relative to its total flavoring and its vanilla taste is mainly provided by non-vanilla flavors, not disclosed to consumers.”

Wholesome Pantry Unsweetened “Vanilla” Almondmilk New York Complaint
Tags: Contains Too Little of Featured Ingredients, Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels