Wegmans lawsuit alleges “food fraud” over vanilla ice cream made without vanilla beans

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Two consumers are calling out Wegmans Food Markets for what a class-action lawsuit labels “food fraud” for selling vanilla ice cream without the actual ingredient.

The pair— Quincy Steele of Pennsylvania and Jimmy Arriola of the Bronx, New York —- allege the supermarket chain attempted to mislead them into believing its ice cream contained real vanilla.

Their suit alleges Wegmans used “natural vanilla flavor” instead of vanilla-based flavoring or vanilla extract in some of its ice cream products priced at a premium. 

“By law, vanilla refers to the ‘the total sapid and odorous principles extractable from one-unit weight of vanilla beans’, according to the complaint, filed Friday in New York federal court.  

” ‘Natural Flavor’ means the products contain flavor not derived from vanilla beans, which is inconsistent with an ice cream flavor represented by an unqualified ‘Vanilla,’ ” the suit contends.

Competing brands including Ben & Jerry’s list vanilla extract from vanilla bean seeds as among the ingredients in their products.

Wegmans disputed the notion that its ice cream ran afoul of regulations or industry standards.

“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,” a spokesperson for the grocery chain emailed. 

The privately-owned Rochester, New York-based grocer runs 99 stores in seven states.

The suit against Wegmans is reminiscent of another suit filed last year over the lack of ginger in Canada Dry Ginger Ale. 

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