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Wegmans Sued Against 'food Fraud' Over Vanilla Ice Cream

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Two people have filed a lawsuit against Wegmans, alleging that vanilla ice cream sold by the supermarket chain does not actually contain vanilla.

The class-action lawsuit accuses Wegmans Food Markets Inc. of committing "food fraud" as vanilla ice cream sold under the Wegmans brand does not contain either vanilla or vanilla extract.

The complaint was filed in federal court by Pennsylvania resident Quincy Steele and New York City resident Jimmy Arriola, on behalf of customers in the seven states where Wegmans does business.

"The Products' vanilla ice cream is not flavored only by vanilla but contains flavors derived from non-vanilla sources, which is misleading to consumers," the lawsuit says. It is demanded that the label of the ice cream read "vanilla flavored" ice cream as the ice cream's vanilla flavor is from other natural flavors.

"For decades, consumers have expected products containing vanilla ice cream to be exclusively flavored by real vanilla derived from the vanilla plant and contain a sufficient amount of vanilla to characterize the food," the suit reads.

The filing notes that the International Dairy Foods Association and National Ice Cream Retailers Association have confirmed vanilla is the consistent number one flavor for 28 percent of consumers, as it is creamy and delicious and also able to enhance other desserts and treats.

However,vanilla is considered a high-risk product for food fraud because of the multiple market impact factors such as natural disasters in the source regions, unstable production, wide variability of quality and value of vanilla flavorings, and second only to saffron in price.

Comparing Wegmans ice cream to competitors' products, the lawsuit noted that the competitors' brands are not misleading as they do not contain non-vanilla flavoring.

The plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages and want Wegmans to change the labels on its ice cream.

In response to the lawsuit, Wegmans said it believes the labeling of its ice cream complies with all regulations and industry standards, and is not misleading in any way.

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