The trendy alternative, high-protein ice cream that has likely been flooding your Instagram feeds during the hot summer months is currently making headlines for an unusual reason. As of this week, Halo Top is being sued for “dramatically” underfilling its pints. A Halo Top spokesperson gave the following statement to Bustle via email: “We have never and would never 'underfill' our pints. Product settling can occur from time to time due to everything from heat fluctuations to altitude changes during shipping and handling.”
Plaintiffs Youssif Kamal of Los Angeles and Gillian Neely from San Diego, California filed a class action complaint against the ice cream brand after they “paid for a full pint of Halo Top ice cream but did not receive a full pint.” They are building their case on the claim that Halo Top underfills its pints, “dramatically so at times, and as a course of business.”
According to PEOPLE, the plaintiffs are seeking over $5 million for the cost of the missing ice cream. Depending on where you buy it, a pint of the ice cream runs about $4 and can be found at most major grocery chains from Walmart to Target to Whole Foods. If the plaintiffs win, that $5 million would potentially be distributed among millions of Halo Top customers.
The 13-page complaint goes on to state, “Purchasers of the premium-priced ice cream simply have no idea how much ice cream they will get each and every time they buy a Halo Top ‘pint.’ And Halo Top has been doing this for years.” It also states, “Halo Top knows it is short-changing its customers, but refuses to do anything about it.”
Plaintiffs state the the alleged malpractice “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.” Therefore 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.”
As Food Navigator-USA notes, Halo Top currently has a “Low Fill Form Response” which customers can fill out if they have a product issue. However, the form appears to be for any product-related issue and not necessarily specific to underfilling.
This isn’t the first lawsuit Halo Top has faced this year. In May, a man sued Halo Top after not realizing it was a low-calorie or “diet” ice cream. According to the New York Post, Josh Berger, the aforementioned man, bought a $6.99 pint of Halo Top in Queens and was disappointed when it didn’t have the taste and texture of typical ice cream. (Halo Top declined to comment to the New York Post at the time of publication.)
The lawsuit claims the labeling on Halo Top pints (which lists the calorie-count for one pint on the front and center of its packaging) is “false, deceptive, and misleading.”
The claim went on to state: “Reasonable consumers are not aware they are purchasing a ‘light ice cream’ product…[the plaintiff] would not have purchased the products or paid as much if the true facts had been known.”
The FDA does have regulated standards when it comes to food packaging, as TODAY points out. Food products that classify themselves as “low-fat” or “light” like Halo Top “must be in legible boldface type, in distinct contrast to other printed or graphic matter, and generally in a type size at least as large as the net quantity of contents declaration. It must also be placed immediately adjacent to the claim.”
As anyone who’s succumb to popular pressure or their inner ice cream demons knows, the front of Halo Top’s packaging highlights the calorie count in its design. It also states nutritional facts like the amount of sugar or that it is low-fat in the corner near the calorie count.
Regardless of these recent lawsuits, our collective love of Instagram-popular ice cream doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.