Friendly’s Manufacturing and Retail markets its ice-cream products as “flavored exclusively from vanilla beans” but uses artificial flavors in at least 57 products, including cakes, cartons, cones, bars and sandwiches, according to a consumer’s putative class action. Charles v. Friendly’s Mfg. & Retail LLC, No. 19-6571 (S.D.N.Y., filed July 15, 2019). The complaint asserts that Friendly’s sells its products as “vanilla” flavored but does not use vanilla-derived flavor. “The Products are misleading because they are marketed as vanilla ice cream adjacent to other vanilla ice cream products which contain vanilla flavoring exclusively from vanilla beans,” the plaintiff argues, providing a competitor’s label showing “vanilla extract” as an ingredient. “Where two similarly labeled products are situated in the same category or section of a store and their representations as to quality and/or fill are identical, yet the former is lacking the quantity of the characterizing ingredient (vanilla) or qualities, the reasonable consumer will be deceived.” The plaintiff alleges negligent misrepresentation, fraud, unjust enrichment and breach of warranty and seeks class certification, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, damages, costs and attorney’s fees.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.