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Are Ben & Jerry’s Cows Actually Happy? That Question May Be Settled in Court

For decades, Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s has enjoyed a reputation as one of the country’s most progressive, forward-thinking companies.

From its whimsical packaging to its sizable contributions to a variety of social causes, the company has long billed itself as one of the good guys, a brand of ice cream you could feel good about eating — or as good as one can feel while ingesting 1,000-plus calories per pint.

In recent years, however, the business started by two friends in a converted Burlington gas station has faced criticism over its own production methods, including a pair of lawsuits accusing the longtime ice cream purveyor of misleading consumers about just how humane its products really are.

In a class-action suit filed last month in federal court in Burlington, Vt., Ben & Jerry’s — along with parent company Unilever — is accused of falsely claiming the milk used in its ice cream comes exclusively from “happy cows” and so-called humane “Caring Dairy” farms.

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