A proposed class action claims consumers have been misled as to the source of the vanilla flavor notes present in the caramel variety of Smucker’s brand Sundae Syrup. According to the case, the product is mislabeled in that it does not declare that the vanilla notes in the syrup’s caramel flavor come from artificial sources.
The lawsuit begins by explaining that vanilla is recognized as one of several prominent flavoring notes within caramel flavor. The representations of a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a vanilla milkshake depicted on defendant J.M. Smucker Company’s caramel syrup label indicate that the product is intended to be an addition to vanilla ice cream, the lawsuit says. As such, consumers who view the product’s packaging reasonably expect the characterizing caramel flavor to contain vanilla notes, the suit argues.
According to the lawsuit, however, “Vanillin (Artificial Flavor)” is stated in the product’s ingredients list, which the plaintiff argues indicates the vanilla taste in the caramel syrup is “mainly due to a source other than vanilla beans.”
Under food labeling regulations, “any artificial flavor which simulates, resembles or reinforces the characterizing flavor” must be identified on a product’s front label, the case says. The suit contends that because vanilla “is known for enhancing the flavor of caramel,” the defendant’s failure to indicate the presence of artificial vanilla flavor on the caramel syrup’s front label is misleading to buyers.
“No reasonable consumer would be expected to know that the Product gets most of its vanilla taste from the artificial flavor vanillin, even though they will expect the Product to have a vanilla taste commonly associated with caramel flavorings and syrups, especially where it is represented as being used with vanilla ice cream,” the complaint reads.
The case claims consumers who view the product’s label will expect the syrup to contain only natural flavors, which the suit notes are preferable due to “being from a natural source material and made through a natural process.”
The plaintiff claims he and proposed class members would not have purchased the product, or would have paid less for it, had they known the source of the caramel syrup’s flavor.