A proposed class action lawsuit filed in New York claims 7-Eleven, Inc. has deceptively labeled its “7-Select Go!Yum” vanilla bean ice cream with regard to both the type and amount of vanilla in the product.
According to the case, 7-Eleven’s labeling describes the product as “vanilla bean ice cream,” and “ice cream made with natural flavors,” and indicates the dessert is made with “premium bourbon vanilla beans and real vanilla.” The labeling also identifies that the ice cream’s flavor comes from “unexhausted” vanilla beans while indicating that no other flavors are present in the product to “simulate, resemble, reinforce or enhance” the vanilla flavoring. The complaint claims, however, that 7-Eleven’s labeling is deceptive because these representations do not fully and properly represent nor characterize the sources and nature of the ice cream’s vanilla flavor. From the case:
“The Products are misleading because they do not contain the amount, type and percentage of vanilla beans and vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring as a component of the flavoring in the ice cream, which is required and consistent with consumer expectations.”
According to the lawsuit, 7-Eleven’s labeling of the product as “vanilla bean” and “vanilla bean ice cream” gives consumers the false impression that vanilla is the exclusive source of the ice cream’s flavor. On the contrary, the complaint claims the inclusion of the phrase “other natural flavors” on the product’s label is evidence that the ice cream is flavored, at least in part, by ingredients other than vanilla. The case argues that 7-Eleven’s labeling fails to properly inform consumers that the product contains flavors other than those derived from vanilla beans and vanilla extract.
In addition, the case claims that the inclusion of “ground vanilla beans” in the product’s ingredient list is also deceptive because it fails to state that the beans are “spent” or devoid of flavor. The complaint further argues 7-Eleven should not have included “natural flavors” on the ice cream’s label since the product contains vanillin, an artificial flavor.
Ice cream flavored by both vanilla beans and another source should properly be labeled “vanilla bean flavored ice cream,” the lawsuit asserts. The case argues the defendant should change the labeling of its product from “vanilla bean ice cream” to “vanilla bean flavored ice cream” to avoid misleading consumers.
The suit states that the proportion of vanilla derived from vanilla beans and vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring has a material bearing on the price of a product because these ingredients are more expensive and more desirable to consumers. According to the complaint, the defendant’s labeling of its product allowed 7-Eleven to charge a premium price of $5.99 per pint, a price that the case claims customers would not have paid had they known the product’s true nature.