A class action lawsuit says that Almond Breeze Almondmilk does not contain natural vanilla, contrary to its advertising. Califia Farms has been hit with a class action lawsuit claiming the company made deceptive claims about the vanilla in its almondmilk products. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this with Scott Hardy, President of Top Class Actions.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Farron Cousins:                  As more and more people are trying to switch away from dairy milk, whether it’s for ethical reasons, going vegan or if it’s just because they’re lactose intolerance, almond milk has become hugely popular. And unfortunately what we’re finding out now, according to several different class action lawsuits, several popular brands of almond milk are falsely advertising what kind of vanilla, if any, they actually contain. Joining me now to explain what’s happening is Scott Hardy with Top Class Actions. And Scott, we’ve got two here, two separate products, two separate class action lawsuits. Let’s start with the first one, the almond breeze class action here saying, yeah, you’re, you’re telling me you’re using real vanilla but there’s no actual real vanilla anywhere in your almond milk.

Scott Hardy:                          Exactly, you’ve got almond breeze, which is advertising that it’s flavored naturally. But when you take a look at the ingredients, there are synthetic ingredients that are not, it doesn’t include real vanilla. And of course, if you want a nice creamy almond milk, which thankfully I don’t drink, you’d think that there’s actually real vanilla in it. But no, these are just artificial flavors that are making you think that you are tasting vanilla and uh, unfortunately almond breeze at least square to this class action decided to save the money because vanilla can be expensive and instead of flavoring it with real vanilla are using these ingredients to make you think that there’s vanilla in there.

Farron Cousins:                  And again, as you and I have talked about before, real actual vanilla is, is not cheap. It’s fairly hard to get a hold of and so that’s why imitation or vanilla extract is so popular. It’s cheaper, it’s readily available, put it in anything tastes just like the original for the most part. And so all almond breeze had to do here was say, hey, real vanilla extract. I mean really, just real vanilla extract, no problems at all. But they chose to not do that. They chose to say real vanilla and they do that because people are going to be drawn to something and you and I again discuss this all the time.

They’re drawn to something that seems all natural, something that is real as opposed to something that may be imitation. And just because it’s imitation, doesn’t mean it’s worse, doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. But we’ve kind of had it beaten into our heads that nope, anything that’s artificially flavored is horrible. We’ve got to get the, the non artificially flavored. And I think that that kind of plays into this here too.

Scott Hardy:                          Exactly, and then you have Califia Farms who has been accused of the same thing. They’ve got their almond milk, allegedly fake vanilla. They’re fake vanilla comes from tree bark or lignin and, you know, they actually have a picture of the, the vanilla flour on the bottle itself. So you look at this say, oh, almond milk, vanilla flour. I’m getting something all natural. This is good. But nope, you’re actually not getting real vanilla in this case either, Califia Farms is according to this class action, just using vanilla flavoring.

Farron Cousins:                  And to me that’s so much worse because almond breeze, maybe, maybe they’ve got a little bit of an argument they could use as a defense, but this one, the Califia, you’ve got the picture of the vanilla on the box. Any reasonable consumers gonna look at that and say, oh okay, I shouldn’t think for a second that this is tree bark flavoring your milk. To me they seem like they’ve got a real problem here because that’s pretty obvious what they’re trying to do. They are trying to mislead consumers into thinking that what’s on the box is what’s inside the box and that’s not always the case.

Scott Hardy:                          Exactly. What you’re, what you’re drinking, you would think has some vanilla in it, but nope, you know, they’re saving some money using their tree bark, which tastes like vanilla according to them and serving that up to you rather than spending the extra money to actually get real vanilla in their almond milk.

Farron Cousins:                  For more information about these two class actions, please follow the links in the description of this video. Head on over to topclassactions.com and while you’re there, make sure you subscribe to their weekly newsletter. Stay up to date on all of these stories and more and be the first to learn about new settlements that have come out. Scott Hardy, Top Class Actions. Thank you very much for talking with me today.

Scott Hardy:                          You’re welcome. Thanks for your time, Farron.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com. He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced