Ben & Jerry’s Being Sued

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) alleges that Ben & Jerry’s do-good reputation and marketing campaigns are all smoke and mirrors because they state the ice cream is made using milk from happy cows and raised in caring dairies. The lawsuit claims that promoting their program as involving family operated farms that must meet the program’s basic requirements, leads consumers to believe the products are produced using animal-raising practices that are more humane than in regular factory-style dairy operations.

Ben & Jerry’s sets itself apart from other ice cream makers because of their claims of values-led sourcing and carrying dairy promises. Consumers seek out products produced with farming and grazing practices that lead to humanely raised animals, clean water, healthy soil and a toxin-free environment.

They claim that their labels do not list what’s really inside like milk from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’S). Their milk and cream is acquired from a co-op in St. Albans City, Vermont. About 360 different farms contribute milk to the co-op but less than 25% adhere to Ben & Jerry’s Craig dairy standards. So they believe when all the milk is mixed together, they don’t know how much has met the company’s varying dairy standards.

Another complaint is on the company’s claims that their products help reduce environmental impact, an ironic marketing claim for a product tainted by chemical pesticides. In July 2017 it was reported that 10 of 11 samples tested came back positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

Ben & Jerry’s released a vision of sustainable agriculture that they would stop using ingredients made with crops chemically dried using glyphosate by 2020. They intend to come out with a new product line this year that will include organic dairy in the base mix and anticipate will only represent up to 6% of total US sales. It is OCA’s belief that they have no intention of sourcing the bulk of their dairy from organic sources in the future.

Dairy is a major source of pollution in Vermont, a state that is feeding their cows heavily on pesticide-sprayed genetically engineered corn. OCA hopes the lawsuit will prompt Ben & Jerry’s to clean up its ice cream. As long as consumers continue to buy their product, they have little reason to change. OCA has created a petition to encourage Ben & Jerry’s to convert to organic and stop tricking customers into thinking they’re organic by claiming to be all-natural and environmentally responsible.

I lived in Vermont for years and never witnessed dairy farmer’s not abiding by the law of Vermont. Ben & Jerry’s factory was immaculately clean when we visited and at that time, I found everything very sterile and controlled. I personally am a fan of their ice cream and think it is one of the best around. My hope would be that they make an attempt to help the Vermont dairy farmers transition to organic.

Dr Fredda Branyon