Consumer Sues Nestle Claiming that the Vanilla in Coffee Mate Is Artificial
A favorite lawsuit filed by class action attorneys is that a consumer product is not what it claims to customers in its marketing. The attorneys get a decent cut of the settlement agreement while the customers will get a few dollars. The latest lawsuit in this area is a claim that Vanilla Coffee Mate has much less vanilla content than is represented to consumers. The lawsuit was filed against Nestle by a law firm that has made these type of cases their bread-and-butter, having submitted dozens of these cases to courts.
The named plaintiff in the class action case is named Regina Carter. She is a New York woman who claims to have purchased the product. On behalf of the proposed class, she claims that she did not get the benefit of the bargain from Vanilla Coffee Mate. She claims that the product was worth less because of the alleged misrepresentations of the defendant.
The Lawsuit Claims that the Company Misled Consumers Over Natural Flavoring
The issue in this lawsuit revolves around what provides the vanilla flavor. The product's label claims that the vanilla flavor is all-natural and made with real vanilla cream. The plaintiff claims that surveys show that a majority of Nestle's customers do not want to buy a product that contains artificial vanilla flavoring. In general, health-conscious consumers are opting for natural flavoring and are turning away artificial flavoring. Customers will generally want to pay more for natural goods because they perceive them as higher quality.
Real vanilla costs much more than artificial flavoring. The price has increased considerably in recent years. According to the plaintiffs, when customers see that something has natural vanilla flavoring, they would be willing to pay more because they know that it would have more expensive ingredients. The lawsuit claims that natural vanilla flavoring is something that is nearly impossible to replicate artificially.
Vanilla flavoring is something that has attracted a fair amount of scrutiny in recent years. Flavor industry representatives have gone on record asking for manufacturers to truthfully label their foods. They are concerned that passing off artificial flavoring as "pure" vanilla may devalue real vanilla. However, Nestle continues to market this product as pure vanilla. The plaintiffs claim that this violates "vanilla regulations" that are aimed at ensuring that the customers gets what they pay for with the product. The plaintiffs claim that there are FDA regulations on point that apply to flavorings that go into food products.
The lawsuit alleges that the vanilla flavoring in the product does not come from actual vanilla beans. Instead, it derives from compounds that resemble the flavor notes of vanilla. The plaintiffs state that federal regulations require that manufacturers specifically denote that vanilla flavors contain some artificial flavoring.
The Plaintiff Claims that Anything Other than Pure Vanilla Should Be Disclosed
Here, the lawsuit claims that Nestle's product does not contain any modification of the term "pure vanilla." The label does not denote that there is some vanilla flavoring that is mixed with artificial flavoring. Instead, the plaintiffs allege that Nestle does not do anything to correct the impression that a customer would get that they are purchasing real vanilla flavor.
Here, the price of Nestle's product is a minimum of $3.79 per 16 ounces. The lawsuit says that this is a premium price that can only be earned for a natural product. However, the plaintiffs point to evidence that Vanilla Coffee Mate is not natural. The plaintiff is even going so far as to accuse Nestle of fraud for the way that it markets its product. They are requesting class certification on behalf of everyone who has bought Vanilla Coffee Mate.
Even when these lawsuits are settled, they result in small checks for the class members. Many of them never even bother to apply for their settlement money since it can be as little as a few dollars. However, the plaintiffs' lawyers are always paid, and they receive as much as one-third of the settlement. There is a reason why this particular law firm specializes in claims of this type. This particular law firm has filed dozens of lawsuits just on the vanilla flavoring issue alone since the start of 2019. This attorney is also challenging claims that Snack Pack pudding is made with real milk and has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of purchasers. However, vanilla appears to be his main focus.
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