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Ben & Jerry's Will Stop Claiming Their Products Are Made with Milk from 'Happy Cows'

Ben & Jerry’s will no longer state on its packaging that the milk and cream used in its ice cream comes from “happy cows.”

That’s (a little) good news for consumers who have been misled for years into thinking that all of the milk and cream in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream comes from dairy farms where cows contentedly frolic outdoors. It doesn’t. In fact, Ben & Jerry's uses milk from conventional, industrial factory farm-style farms.

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream packaging will continue to use the brand’s cartoon image of a cow—depicted outdoors, on a green pasture, under a big blue sky. According to the lawyers representing Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, the cows “did not look happy to begin with.”

We’ll let you be the judge of whether or not Ben & Jerry’s cartoon cows look “happy.” But to be clear—no matter how much fun the media is having with this happy cow narrative—Ben & Jerry’s deceptive marketing tactics are serious business.

A little history: OCA sued Ben & Jerry’s in July 2018 for the deceptive labeling, marketing and sale of its ice cream. We alleged that, contrary to Ben & Jerry’s representations of humane sourcing and environmental responsibility, the ingredients are sourced from typical factory farms and some of the products contain traces of glyphosate, an environmentally harmful biocide and the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup® weedkiller.

In January 2019, the District of Columbia Superior Court rejected Ben & Jerry’s motion to dismiss OCA’s lawsuit, brought under the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA).

In October 2019, a class action lawsuit alleging similar claims was filed in the U.S. District Court in Vermont. 

Then, in a motion to dismiss the Vermont lawsuit, filed earlier this week, Ben & Jerry’s revealed publicly that it is removing the “happy cows” statement from its packaging.

That’s a pretty good indication that the ice cream maker can’t back up its “happy cows” claims. But, as we allege in our lawsuit, the company—long accused of making “sustainability” claims while contributing to Vermont’s massive water pollution problem—can’t back up a lot of other claims, either.

Why does it matter? We explained that back when we first sued the brand. And we’re committed to seeing this lawsuit through to a satisfactory end.

Read OCA’s press release

Read Vermont Public Radio’s coverage: ‘How Now Unhappy Cow? Ben & Jerry’s Drops Claims of Contented Bovines

Read Food Navigator’s coverage: ‘Ben & Jerry’s Hits Back at Lawsuit. We Never Said *All* of Our Milk Came from Happy Cows’

SIGN THE PETITION: Tell Ben & Jerry’s: Roundup Ready Ice Cream Isn’t Socially Responsible. Go Organic!

Make a tax-deductible contribution to our End Factory Farms campaign

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter.