Wegmans sued because plaintiffs say there's no vanilla in its vanilla ice cream

Does ice cream have to have vanilla in it to be true vanilla ice cream?

A class action lawsuit filed last week against the grocery store chain Wegmans says yes.

Otherwise calling vanilla ice cream vanilla could be considered misleading, the plaintiffs said, WNBC reported.

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The complaint filed on behalf of Quincy Steele and Jimmy Arriola in the Southern District of New York said the store is deceptive because the vanilla ice cream does not list vanilla in the product's ingredients.

Only a handful of ingredients are listed on the label and online including cream, skim milk, liquid sugar, milk, egg yolks and natural flavor, "Today" reported.

Credit: Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Credit: Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The natural flavor is not specified as either vanilla or natural vanilla flavor.

The suit alleges that consumers expect the vanilla taste of the ice cream to come from the vanilla plant, and that "natural flavoring" is misleading, WNBC reported.

The complaint compares the Wegmans brand vanilla ice cream labels with other brands' labels, which specifically list vanilla extract in the ingredients, WNBC reported.

The Food and Drug Administration said natural flavors could be from anything natural.

"The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional," according to the FDA, the "Today" show reported.

Several natural flavors can mimic vanilla's taste, including one made from secretions from beavers, "Today" reported.

Wegmans officials stand by their ice cream saying, "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," "Today" reported.

The company, however, did not disclose what the natural flavor was in the ice cream.

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