SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – In a federal class action that may still the spoons of hippies nationwide, Ben & Jerry’s is accused of marketing its ice cream as “all natural,” though it contains non-natural, alkalized cocoa. Thirty ice cream flavors are named in the complaint, including “Chubby Hubby,” “Cherry Garcia,” “Chunky Monkey,” and “Karamel Sutra,” as well as three frozen yogurt and three popsicle flavors.
Lead plaintiff Skye Astiana says she relied on Ben & Jerry’s claims that its “All Natural Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream” was exactly that – but it contains the synthetic ingredient potassium carbonate, from cocoa processed with alkali, which “changes the chemical structure, taste and appearance of cocoa and reduces its acidity and flavenol content.”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a complaint with the Food and Drug Administration against Ben & Jerry’s this year, and “warned as early as 2002 that B&J had been misbranding their products as ‘all natural’ when in truth they were not,” according to the complaint.
“Over the past 30 years B&J has cultivated and reinforced a corporate image that has catered to this ‘all natural’ theme and have boldly emblazoned this moniker on each and every one of its ice cream products despite the fact that it uses a synthetic ingredient in the form of alkalized cocoa,” the class claims. “As a matter of its self characterized socially conscious corporate morality, and as a matter of law, B&J must now reconcile its labeling with the true content of its products.”
The class demands restitution and an order enjoining Ben & Jerry’s allegedly misleading ads. The class is represented by Janet Linder Spielberg of Los Angeles.