Published on July 24th, 2019


CATrends: Vanilla Ice Cream

This article highlights a trend in class-action litigation as identified by our Class-Action Tracker. Thus the name of this feature, CATrends.

Face it, on a hot summer day, there’s only one flavor of ice cream that will suffice: vanilla.

But how several ice cream brands achieve that distinctive vanilla taste — and whether that precludes them from marketing their products as “vanilla ice cream” — is the subject of a current trend in class-action litigation.

“For a product labeled as vanilla ice cream, the sole flavor must be vanilla extract or flavor,” which indicates it comes from the vanilla bean, states a class-action lawsuit against Dove, one of four brands accused of misleading consumers on how it gets its vanilla ice cream to taste so vanilla-y.

Instead of exclusively using real vanilla from the vanilla bean, Dove and the others (Friendly’s, Edy’s and Breyers) use ingredients designed to mimic the flavor of real vanilla, which show up on the ingredients list as “natural flavor,” the lawsuits claim.

“In reality, the natural flavor which simulates and reinforces and extends vanilla here likely is a form of wood pulp or coal tar derivative,” the suit against Breyers alleges. In other words, not real vanilla.

The lawsuits also contend that the brands add food coloring to give the ice cream a yellow hue to make it look creamier. reached out to the brands for comment. Out of the four, only Dove responded, saying it “cannot comment on pending litigation.”

Find more of our coverage on ice cream here.

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