A proposed class action out of New York claims that despite McDonald’s representations to the contrary, the restaurant chain’s “vanilla” ice cream cones are not flavored exclusively with real vanilla.
According to the 34-page complaint, which echoes arecenttrendoflawsuitsthat challenge thelabelingof certain brands of vanilla ice cream, McDonald’s fails to disclose that the flavor of its ice cream product comes not from “the characterizing vanilla flavor,” but from non-vanilla sources. The case alleges that customers, upon viewing the defendant’s description of the “vanilla” product absent any mention of artificial flavors, expect that the ice cream’s flavor is derived exclusively from vanilla beans. The complaint expounds on this claim, stating:
“The designation of a type of ice cream as ‘Vanilla’ is understood by consumers to identify a product where (1) vanilla is the characterizing flavor, (2) vanilla is contained in a sufficient amount to flavor the product, (3) the flavor is derived from vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring and unexhausted vanilla beans, (4) no other flavors simulate, resemble, reinforce, or enhance flavoring from vanilla or permit less real vanilla to be used and (5) vanilla is the exclusive source of flavor.”
As the case tells it, however, McDonald’s vanilla ice cream fails to match this description. According to the suit, the product is flavored not with real vanilla, but with other non-vanilla sources, as evidenced by the ice cream’s ingredients list:
The case argues that the product’s “Natural Flavor” ingredient is, in fact, a combination of several non-vanilla flavors that “extend, simulate, enhance and resemble vanilla.” Reasonable consumers, the suit claims, would be misled by McDonald’s representations into paying more than they otherwise would have for a product that does not contain premium vanilla flavor.