Lawsuit Claims Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Bars Are Not Made with Real Chocolate
Who has not gone into the local grocery store and purchased a 3-pack of Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars? You would think that you are getting deluxe ice cream bars that have been saturated in luscious, creamy milk chocolate for the average retail price of $3.99. Well, this new class-action lawsuit that was just filed this week is saying that the milk chocolate, high-calorie ice cream bars are not made with real milk chocolate.
Lauren Yu filed the class-action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York. She is represented by Sheehan & Associates. The case number is 1:20-CV-08512 in Lauren Yu v. Froneri US Inc. Yu is asking for a jury trial along with monetary relief, interest with court costs, and relative expenses as deemed right by the Court.
Unscrupulous Business Practices
The attorneys for Yu claim that Froneri US Inc. violates two business laws: New York General Business Law and the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. Furthermore, Froneri US Inc. has engaged in unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, and breaches of implied and express merchant warranty.
A producer makes chocolate from cacao beans that have been fermented and roasted to make cacao nibs. Then, the cacao nibs are grounded to produce chocolate liquor. The chocolate liquor is finally separated into either cocoa butter or solids.
When a consumer purchases a chocolate product, he or she expects the product to contain chocolate liquors. However, this unexpectedly is not the case with the Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars.
Last year, Theresa Sencen purchased Haagen-Dazs ice cream, expecting it to contain the full milk chocolate ingredients. Instead, she bought an inferior product at a premium price.
The law firm of Sheehan & Associates is representing Theresa Sencen. The lawsuit was filed in the Court for the Southern District of New York. The case number is 7:20-CV-04024 — Theresa Sencen v. Froneri US INC .
The packaging is misleading. The front of the package shows an ice cream bar that had been dipped in chocolate. The consumer thinks he or she is buying a package of ice cream bars that contain the ingredients of milk chocolate.
To understand the truth, the consumer would have to read the fine print on the back of the box to know that the milk chocolate is made with vegetable oil.
According to Sencen, Häagen-Dazs is committing food fraud. A company commits food fraud when they try to present a product as being premium while using less expensive ingredients or, in other words, cutting corners to make a profit. By doing this, customers are deceived into purchasing the product.
Chocolate products are generally made with chocolate liquors. Customers highly value chocolate liquor; it leaves a creamy chocolate aftertaste in the mouth. Chocolate liquor is smooth and creamy, and it is highly satisfying.
In contrast, vegetable oil is a less expensive product. After consumption, the consumer is left with a waxy feeling on the tongue, which is not as fulfilling and satisfying as chocolate liquors.
However, this use of vegetable oil in chocolate products is nothing new. It is very pervasive in the food industry as companies seek to save as much money as possible.
Because of this, the food and drug industry has implemented various guidelines as standards for identity. Most customers will come to expect that their chocolate products will contain a certain amount of cacao fat.
Food and Drug Administration
A company cannot label a product as chocolate without adhering to specific standards. Per the FDA guidelines, "… consumers' experience with that custom and practice primes them to infer from a product's labeling whether a product contains chocolate or is a chocolate mixture (compound) which contains vegetable oils."
By this guideline, chocolate and candy companies are prohibited from marketing chocolate products made with artificial substitutes. Congress established this guideline through the FDA to combat misrepresentation and fraud.
Milk chocolate must have 15% of cacao fat per weight of chocolate liquors. For white chocolate, it must have 20% of cacao fat per chocolate liquor weight.
What Häagen-Dazs is doing is lowering the chocolate-coating melting point, so once the ice cream is dipped in the chocolate, it will coat the ice cream bar much easier.
Most customers may not take the extra time to read the Häagen-Dazs package's back to understand all the ingredients available in the ice cream product. Purchases are made quickly, and Häagen-Dazs makes a considerable amount of money from unsuspecting consumers.
Therefore, Häagen-Dazs should let consumers know that their chocolate contains vegetable oils on the front of the package.
Yu would like the Court to provide injunctive and preliminary relief. The defendant should stop misleading customers through deceptive packaging and stop deceptive practices.
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