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Ben & Jerry’s Hasn’t Cleaned up Its Act, Consumer Group Claims

The ice cream brand known for its earthy, crunchy, all-natural ethos is under attack for allegedly letting pesticide slip into its products.

It’s summer in America, and that means action-packed movies, piles of hot dogs and plenty of ice cream. But according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by a consumer food-advocacy group, if your choice of ice cream is Ben & Jerry’s, it may come with a swirl of pesticides.

With wacky flavors and a do-gooder reputation, the company was the second-largest ice cream brand in the U.S. last year, with $801 million in sales, according to Euromonitor. Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t just taste good, the company promises, it does good. “Values-led sourcing” means that some ingredients are Fair Trade and all are non-GMO, the ice cream maker pledges on its website; the most important one—milk—comes from “Caring Dairy” farms, it says. The website defines the term as including animal welfare monitoring and farmer and farm-worker standards.

The Organic Consumers Association alleges, however, that Ben & Jerry’s isn’t keeping its word. The consumer watchdog said in a complaint filed in District of Columbia Superior Court in Washington that the company and its parent, European food giant Unilever Plc, have engaged in deceptive marketing by misleading shoppers into thinking they’re buying an environmentally friendly treat. According to the lawsuit, the ice cream is made from milk sourced from the same kinds of farms as most other dairy products and the final product contains the pesticide glyphosate. 

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