A proposed class action claims the maker of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream bars has falsely advertised the product given the dessert, dipped in “milk chocolate” and covered in bits of almonds and toffee, contains vegetable oils.
According to the case, defendant Froneri US, Inc. has falsely represented on the packaging of its Häagen-Dazs Coffee Almond Crunch ice cream bars that the treat is dipped in “milk chocolate” without disclosing the presence of vegetable oil, specifically coconut oil, which the suit calls a cheaper, lower quality replacement for cacao fat that consumers would never expect to be in a product purporting to contain chocolate.
Consumers prefer that the chocolate in chocolate-flavored products be derived from cacao beans, the lawsuit argues. Per the complaint, cacao bean-derived chocolate provides “greater satiety and a creamy and smooth mouthfeel” in comparison to the “waxy and oily mouthfeel” and aftertaste provided by chocolate made with substitutes such as vegetable oil.
In light of real chocolate’s preferred status among consumers and the frequency with which it’s adulterated with lower-cost substitute ingredients, chocolate has specific labeling requirements that have been in place for over 50 years, the suit relays. For example, the optional ingredients in milk chocolate, the case states, only include cacao fat, nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners, spices, natural and artificial flavorings, dairy ingredients and emulsifying agents—and not vegetable oil.
The lawsuit alleges that since the box containing Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream bars represents that the product contains “rich milk chocolate,” with no qualification such as “milk chocolate and vegetable oil coating,” consumers falsely believe that the coating contains only chocolate ingredients. However, this representation is, at best, a “half-truth,” the case claims, because the chocolate in the product contains ingredients not found in real chocolate—i.e. coconut oil.
“The Product does not designate the chocolate as ‘milk chocolate and vegetable oil coating’ on the front label, which would tell consumers what they are buying,” the complaint contests, arguing that consumers do not expect “to resort to the fine print” in the ice cream’s ingredients list to find what should be disclosed on the front label.
The lawsuit claims the defendant’s packaging of the Häagen-Dazs Coffee Almond Crunch ice cream bars was designed to “deceive, mislead, and defraud” consumers, who would not have purchased the product, or would have paid less for it, had they known the truth regarding its chocolate content.
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