Wegmans grocery stores, which is one of the largest in the country is now being targeted by two shoppers. It seems as if they are disappointed with something they found in the frozen dessert aisle.
The East Coast chain, Wegmans, recently became ‘America’s Best Supermarket Chain’ and offers many items that are branded with their own name. Vanilla Premium Ice Cream is one of those items.
The lawsuit that was filed this month makes the claim that the ‘vanilla ice cream’ is not actually vanilla.
Attorneys filed a complaint on October 4 with the Southern District of New York in Behalf of Quincy Steel and Jimmy Arriola. The complaint was also filed on behalf of “all others similarly situated.” Attorneys make the accusation in the complaint that the vanilla ice cream sold by the store is deceptive because there is not any real vanilla in it.
You can find the ingredients to the store brand Premium Vanilla Ice Cream on their website. Those ingredients are: cream, skim milk, liquid sugar, milk, egg yolks, and natural flavor. The complaint was filed because neither ‘vanilla’ or ‘natural vanilla flavor’ are included in the ingredients.
According to the lawsuit, consumers have the right to expect that real vanilla from a vanilla plant will be used to flavor vanilla ice cream. The vanilla flavoring in Wegmans’ ice cream comes from non-vanilla sources, which they are claiming misleads consumers.
This leads us to ask that if Wegmans’ natural flavor does not come from vanilla beans, then what is natural flavoring?
The FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations has something to say on the subject. According to those regulations, natural flavors can be included on the label to cover a large number of possible ingredients. They may even include something that is totally different from the supposed taste of the food.
“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional,” the FDA stipulations say.
A number of natural flavoring agents are used to mimic the aroma of true vanilla. One of those is made from anal secretions of beavers. Wegmans, which can be found in seven states in the United States is not going into details about the way they flavor their vanilla ice cream. They have, however, provided this statement to TODAY: “We take great pride in the quality of all of our Wegmans Brand products. We believe that the labeling of our ice cream fully complies with all regulations and industry standards, and is not misleading in any way.”
The label includes the motto: ‘Food You Feel Good about’ and also says there are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives included in the product.
Consumers may have a difficult time discerning the difference between organic, natural and regular products and legally, Wegmans may have a leg to stand on when looking at federal standards.
One thing of note is that ‘The Wegmans family’ does offer patrons a refund if they don’t love the product, and that is included on the ice cream packaging.
For those who really love their vanilla, however, they will have to sort things out in court.