Ben & Jerry’s is being called to task over allegations its ice cream isn’t actually humanely sourced from “happy cows” as their advertising and packaging claims.
The Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit public interest organization filed the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream class action lawsuit earlier this month, alleging that the ice cream products are sourced from inhumane dairy farms and some of the products contain traces of environmentally harmful biocide. OCA was formed in 1998 and deals with crucial issues of truth in advertising, accurate food labeling, food safety, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, environmental sustainability, and related topics.
According to the lawsuit, Unilever – the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s – markets its ice cream products as being made from milk produced by “happy cows” raised in “Caring Dairies”. Consumers are being led to believe that the ice cream they are purchasing and consuming is made using animal-raising practices that more humane than those used on regular factory-style, mass-production dairy operations, the complaint contends.
Additionally, the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream class action lawsuit states that Unilever portrays that their ice cream products are produced in an environmentally responsible manner, claiming their ice cream products “respect the Earth and the Environment,’ are made with ‘values-led sourcing,’ and are part of ‘Ben & Jerry’s […] long history of fighting for climate justice and finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of our business.”
However, in contrast to Unilever’s representations about climate justice and reducing environmental impact, some of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream products contain glyphosate, a synthetic biocide suspected, including by consumers, to have detrimental environmental effects, the complaint alleges. Some of the varieties of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream alleged to have tested positive glyphosate or its byproducts are:
- Peanut Butter Cup
- Peanut Butter Cookie
- Phish Food
- The Tonight Dough
- Half Baked
- Chocolate Fudge Brownie
- Americone Dream; and
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
It is common now for consumers to consider how their food is produced and the effects of that production on animals and the environment. As a result, demand has increased for products that provide assurances regarding animal welfare and also for “green” products – that is, products that are farmed and processed using environmentally responsible practices. Consumers, as Unilever knows, are willing to pay more for products marketed this way and capitalize on this demand deceptively, the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream class action lawsuit asserts.
“By deceiving consumers about the nature, quality, and/or ingredients of the Products, Unilever is able to sell a greater volume of the Products, to charge higher prices for the Products, and to take away market share from competing products, thereby increasing its own sales and profits.”
OCA is seeking declaratory relief in the form of an order declaring Unilever’s conduct to be unlawful, as well as and injunctive relief calling for the company to include a full and clear disclosure of how its ice cream is sourced and the presence of glyphosate in its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. They are bringing this deceptive advertising lawsuit on behalf of its members and the general public.
The Organic Consumers Association is represented by Kim. E. Richman of Richman Law Group.
The Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Class Action Lawsuit is Organic Consumers Association v. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., Case No. Unknown, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Civil Division.