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June 11, 2018

Is This Stuff Really “Ice Cream?”

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:14 am

A new brand of “ice cream” called “Enlightened” has hit the market claiming only 60 – 100 calories per serving, with “more protein and less sugar.”

They picture 27 varieties of pints of ice cream in fancy flavors like this on their website:

Enlightened 4 pints

Each of the descriptions under those containers, and even the containers themselves call the product “ice cream.” And on individual product pages, the manufacturer repeatedly refers to the product simply as “ice cream.”

Red Velvet on web

Under federal law, a “standard of identity” defines when you can label a product as “ice cream”:

“Ice cream” is a frozen food made from a mixture of dairy products, containing at least 10 percent milkfat. It also cannot be aerated (“overrun”) by more than 100%. And a gallon must weigh at least 4.5 pounds. [language simplified]

Their nutrition label on the red velvet “ice cream” flavor, for example, reveals a fat content of only 2 grams in a 70 gram (half cup) serving:

nutrition label

So clearly, there is not at least 10% milkfat in this product, and therefore legally it cannot be simply labeled “ice cream.”

You can’t tell looking at the pictures of the pint containers on the website, but a visit to a grocer’s freezer case reveals a secret on the package.


fine print

At the very bottom of the container in the tiniest print, which many people might miss, it says “low fat ice cream.” And that is completely different from plain old “ice cream.”

Federal law requires conspicuous disclosure of the legal name of the product, the statement of identity:

…be presented in bold type on the principal display panel, shall be in a size reasonably related to the most prominent printed matter on such panel, and shall be in lines generally parallel to the base on which the package rests as it is designed to be displayed. 21 CFR 101.3

And under separate FDA rules, products can be labeled as lower in fat if they meet these requirements:

  • “Reduced fat” ice cream contains at least 25 percent less total fat than the referenced product (either an average of leading brands, or the company’s own brand).

  • “Light” or “lite” ice cream contains at least 50 percent less total fat or 33 percent fewer calories than the referenced product (the average of leading regional or national brands).

  • “Lowfat” ice cream contains a maximum of 3 grams of total fat per serving (½ cup).

  • “Nonfat” ice cream contains less than 0.5 grams of total fat per serving.

  • Because this flavor of Enlightened has less than three grams of fat per serving, it can and must be labeled as “low fat ice cream” and not merely “ice cream.”

    We asked Enlightened how the company could refer to these products merely as “ice cream” under the standard of identity and it referred us to the above chart.

    Is the fine print disclosure they make on the container sufficient disclosure to purchasers? Are repeated references merely to “ice cream” in marketing materials and on the package misleading? We filed a complaint with the FDA asking them to look at this case, and we’ll report their findings (if any).

    We’re not alone in raising questions about these newfangled “ice creams.” A class action lawsuit was filed last month against Halo Top, the most famous of these new lower calorie brands, making similar allegations as we have about Enlightened. (Hat tip to for this lawsuit.)

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    1. I have to agree on this one. This is a clearly violation of the rules you linked and I can’t help but feel that this is at least intentional. It’s obvious they know it should be called low-fat ice cream, so it’s deceptive not to label it that on the front.

      Comment by Joel — June 11, 2018 @ 9:23 am
    2. How does it taste?

      Comment by Russ — June 11, 2018 @ 9:43 am
    3. I noticed on the close-up picture that “The Good-For-You Ice Cream” is a trademark. See the little “TM” following the phrase? They might argue that they’re not calling it “ice cream”. They might say they’re equating the phrase “good-for-you ice cream” with the term “lowfat ice cream”. Now, I think that’s all a crock. Hopefully, the FDA will see things your way. But I bet they won’t. Good Mouse Print this week!

      Comment by Richard P — June 11, 2018 @ 10:08 am
    4. I don’t know. The calories are clearly disclosed. That and “The good for you Ice Cream” clearly signifies that *something* is reduced. At that point the leading possibilities are sugar or fat. If the buyer is curious about which it is, they can check the nutrition facts. Now, maybe it doesn’t follow the letter of the law, but I don’t see the problem. The law was created to weed out “ice cream” that added non-milk ingredients to make it cheaper. That is clearly not the case here.

      Comment by BZ — June 11, 2018 @ 10:22 am
    5. On second thought, I just noticed that it does say “less sugar” in larger print than “low fat”, so perhaps I’m wrong

      Comment by BZ — June 11, 2018 @ 10:36 am
    6. Likely the cost of litigation will be outweighed by the increased sales here of the new product. So, round two or three of the packaging will be fixed but not before people are already used to the product. Good ol’ bait and switch and make that money at all cost.

      Comment by Michael — June 11, 2018 @ 11:23 am
    7. The FDA has lost a lot of teeth over the past 2 decades. I doubt they would put much effort into doing anything about this.

      I hope the company is reprimanded (financially) for breaking rules, but most of the time the profit incentive far outweighs the punishment.

      Comment by Wayne — June 11, 2018 @ 2:16 pm
    8. Outside of the flavor here all these new so called pints of high priced and low-cal icecream are really only going to display the calorie count in largest font-size.

      I say if they did say this was LOW FAT Ice cream in a really large font-size this product would not sell as much product.

      Comment by Richard Ginn — June 11, 2018 @ 3:00 pm
    9. This is the Dairy Industry going after them. Heaven forbid their sales suffer.

      Russ – The taste is pretty good. It’s nothing special. But if you crave ice cream this would be a healthier alternative.

      Here’s something all of you MP readers should try.

      I put Halo Top Vanilla Bean in the refrigerator to soften it a little. Forgot about it overnight. Drank it the next day and it tasted a little like cheap eggnog.

      I tried this again and got a completely different result. This time it was all like standing foam. As if it was filled with air pockets which burst open.

      Comment by scott — June 19, 2018 @ 3:44 am

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