photo courtesy of halo top

A new lawsuit alleges that the low-cal ice cream company isn't giving you a full pint

Mike Pomranz
June 26, 2018

Since its introduction in 2012, the low-calorie ice cream brand Halo Top has taken the industry by storm, a surge in popularity that sank in last year when the Los Angeles-based company was able to boast that it was the best-selling pint of ice cream in U.S. grocery stores, toppling everyone from Ben & Jerry’s to Häagen-Dazs and beyond. All along, the big question has been “How do they do it?” The simple answer is by using a longer ingredient list that includes low-calorie sweeteners like erythritol and stevia leaf extract. But a new lawsuit claims that Halo Top may also be helping customers save on calories with another technique: Halo Top pints are allegedly often under-filled.

The proposed class-action suit was filed earlier this month in California by two plaintiffs, Youssif Kamal and Gillian Neely, according to FoodNavigator-USA. The duo reportedly claims they “paid for a full pint of Halo Top ice cream but did not receive a full pint.” They also allege that their experience is not an isolated incident, stating not only that the company “underfills its ‘pints’ of ice cream … dramatically so at times, and as a course of business,” but that the under-filling “appears to be random to consumers, it can vary in amount of under-filling and appears to be unrelated to flavor of ice cream or the location of purchase.” They add, “In short, it is difficult (if not impossible) for any consumer to know—until after purchase and upon opening the container—whether or not they will receive a full pint.”

Interestingly enough, plenty of legal precedent apparently already exists for under-filled containers, which is known as “slack fill.” FoodNavigator spoke to a number of lawyers in the field who pointed out that though “nonfunctional slack fill”—or essentially leaving lots of empty space simply to deceive customers—is illegal in California, plenty of legal reasons for under-filling a container actually exist, such as natural product settling or packaging machine requirements.

Additionally, if the plaintiff’s allegations seem vague, at least one lawyer seemed to agree: “Halo Top’s initial defense will probably be a motion to dismiss contending that plaintiffs fail to state sufficient facts to support their claim,” William Dance, an attorney at Tucker Ellis, was quoted as saying. “Since they do not state any specific facts, but rather only vague, broad generalities, Halo Top has a strong argument there.”

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