On June 24th I posted an article in this blog about Saving Pure Vanilla. I expressed concern that many premium ice cream manufacturers (and I specifically mentioned Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean ice cream) do not contain pure vanilla extract or flavor in their ice cream. I was also concerned about how ingredients are represented on the packaging. I requested that people write to Nestle Corporation asking that they comply with the FDA Standard of Identity and to put pure vanilla extract in their premium ice creams.
When I wrote these statements in my newsletter and web log, I honestly (but unfortunately) was not considering that this could possibly be harmful to the reputation of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Inc., to Nestle, or to Haagen-Dazs. It was based on information I received from a meeting at the Flavor and Extract Manufacturer’s Association (FEMA) and from the labeling I read on the Haagen-Dazs ice cream package. It was also based on my interpretation of the FDA Standard of Identity for premium vanilla ice creams. And finally, it included my concern about the vanilla producers worldwide and my interest in seeing increased use of pure vanilla in premium products.
On June 30th I received a letter from Mark LeHockey, Vice President and Counsel of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Inc. Mr. Le Hockey writes:
“First and foremost your statement that Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean ice cream contains synthetic vanillin is completely false. Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean contains only pure vanilla extract, supplied to Dreyer’s by one of the most reputable ingredients suppliers in this country. For the same reason, your statement that “Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean ice cream contains ‘no vanilla at all’ is false.
“From there, it unfortunately only gets worse. Based upon your misstatement that Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean contains no vanilla at all, your further assertions that Dreyer’s or Nestle are defying FDA regulations, using ‘fraudulent packaging, which is illegal’, and for the past few years ‘they’ve ignored the law’, are both false and presumptively malicious based upon the actual facts and your failure to ascertain the true facts before making such scurrilous charges.
“In fact, in addition to using only pure vanilla extract in its Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean ice cream, Dreyer’s has spent and continues to spend millions upon millions of dollars ensuring the highest quality of Haagen-Dazs ingredients and communicating those benefits to our customers. In this connection, the false statements and accusations contained in the June 24th web site do severe damage to our work and the reputation and goodwill of one of the most valuable brands in this country. Each passing day that these false statements and claims remain posted only exacerbates the problem.”
As a journalist, I attempt to report accurate information to readers. In fact, I did not contact Dreyer’s or Nestle in advance of publishing information on my web log or in the newsletter. I placed a call to Mr. Mark LeHockey on July 1st, but as I have not heard back from him, I can neither confirm nor deny that Haagen-Dazs ice cream contains pure vanilla extract. As a result, I will assume that Mr. LeHockey’s claim is accurate. I respectfully apologize for misinformation I may have provided regarding Haagen-Dazs premium ice cream and for any fraudulent or false statements I have made. I have removed the web log statements and am contacting all newsletter subscribers to apologize for inaccurate or misleading information.
As those of you who read my blog are fans of pure vanilla, I encourage you to enjoy premium ice creams containing pure vanilla and to continue to support vanilla producers by purchasing and using pure vanilla products.