Breyer’s : Business as Usual

Holy Toledo Batman!  Is that really All-Natural Ice Cream?  Even the carton that says it is all-natural ice cream?…

A couple of developments along the Breyer’s front that I’d like to share before they melt…. although Frozen Dairy Dessert goes a lot longer without melting than does ice cream!  Perhaps that is the sole positive about frozen dairy dessert, if you don’t mind the gummy taste or un-natural ingredients.

At any rate, astute reader DMC in DC informed me and Little Sis that a class action lawsuit was filed against Breyer’s  because of the presence of processed ingredients (in particular alkalized cocoa) in their “all-natural” ice cream.  There is supposed to be a final fairness hearing on September 12.  Hey that was yesterday!!  I’ll let you know if I learn anything more.  Unfortunately it is too late to file a claim, which according to DMC is no accident, i.e. the $2.5 million that Breyer’s promised in restitution will not be fully distributed because there isn’t enough time for claimants to file, but I have no dates for the original posting so don’t know if they were extra bad or not.

Clearly, the ingredients of our food is catching our attention.  So many of you have commented on this issue.  We get hits from all over the world everyday on the Breyer’s posts.  People don’t like that these changes were made despite a product reputation for wholesomeness built over decades of our purchases.

We all need a wake up call now and then, don’t we?  I sure did.

Dissenting Democrat, a fellow wordpress blogger mentioned us in his blog because he too is disappointed by Breyer’s, er… Unilever’s desertion of the Breyer’s model of a good, all natural product.  He tells us he likes politics, but he LOVES ice cream.  Real ice cream that is.  You can check out his blog here.

Breyer’s Frozen Dairy Dessert Reply

Progress can be slow.  As slow as melting ‘Frozen Dairy Dessert.’

I wanted to keep you posted on my interactions with Unilever, the multi-national corporation that owns the Breyer’s brand.  If you missed the letter I sent to Unilever about the change in many of their Breyer’s products from ‘all-natural ice cream’ to ‘Frozen Dairy Dessert’, you can read it here.

Clearly, I am not the first person to complain about the change in quality and taste as well as the addition of UN-natural ingredients to the ice cream formerly known as Breyer’s all Natural.  My letter was met with an almost immediate email response (read below) and the promise of a more in-depth look at my concerns in the future.  The email includes a list of the flavors that will not be changed to Frozen Dairy Dessert – but beware!!!  The ‘Ice Cream’ label does not preclude the use of either tara or guar gum or of caramel color which is an additive that the Center for Science in the Public Interest places on their AVOID list.  Please feel free to add your voice to the discontent appearing in the Unilever in-box at this link.

Additionally, I just received a coupon in the mail for a free Breyer’s product.  This was also obviously a canned response as the opening sentence is, “Thank you for contacting us regarding Breyers Ice Cream.  We are very sorry to learn you had this experience.”  I’m not deriding them for the canned comments, after all they did respond quickly, just amused and wondering if I will indeed ever hear any more.

As to the coupon for the product I swore I would never buy again… I will actually use this coupon to obtain for free the least offensive of their ice creams because it is not putting money in their pocket…. in fact it is taking it OUT of their pocket.  If a lot of people sent them letters to complain about the changes, Unilever would be sending out a lot of free coupons.  Might cost them more than they are saving by using cheap ingredients!  I’m just sayin…  Here’s the link for comments again.

And finally the moment you’ve all been waiting patiently for… here’s the email I received.

“Thank you for contacting us regarding Breyers Ice Cream .

Breyers® products have consistently delivered high-quality ingredients, great flavors and smooth creaminess that our fans love and we assure you that we remain committed to using high-quality ingredients in all our Breyers® products. Our Ice Cream varieties and new Frozen Dairy Dessert options continue to use fresh milk, cream and sugar.

What distinguishes our Frozen Dairy Dessert from our Ice Cream is that it’s blended in a whole new way to create a smoother texture, tends to have lower fat, and maintains a better texture throughout distribution…from our freezer to your home freezer.

Breyers® offers a wide range of products to meet the different taste, nutritional, and value needs of consumers. Many flavors will not be converting to Frozen Dairy Dessert, including: Natural Vanilla, Natural Strawberry, Chocolate, French Vanilla, Vanilla/Chocolate/Strawberry, Mint Chocolate Chip, Homemade Vanilla, Coffee, Vanilla/Chocolate, Lactose-Free Vanilla, Triple Chocolate, and NASCAR® Checkered Flag.

Your comments are extremely important to us and we will share them with our staff. We thank you for your interest in our products and we will be sending you a complimentary coupon via U.S. Postal mail which you should receive within 7-10 business days.

Sincerely,

Your friends at Breyers”

All I can say is…. Eat Food!  REAL Food!

Frozen Dairy Dessert, Really Breyer’s?

Okay, so apparently I am behind the 8 ball on this one as I’ve googled the subject and found lots of angry posts about Breyer’s addition of tara gum to their ‘all natural ice cream.’  I’ve been happily buying Breyer’s vanilla, chocolate and coffee ice cream for about 5 years after concluding that I can make my own healthier versions of the nasty loaded ice creams like super-chewy-brownie-fudge-oreo-sugar-chemical-soup-with-caramel by starting with a natural ice cream and adding nuts, home-made cookies or brownies or fruit.  Lately, my husband has been purchasing Breyer’s butter pecan and cherry vanilla.  What’s so un-natural about that?  Add a little cherries and vanilla right?  Add a little butter and pecans, right?  Indeed.  It would seem that adding more things requires the removal of some cream and the addition of a number of other chemicals.  These actions demotes these Breyer’s ice creams to ‘frozen dairy desserts.’  I’m scooping out some of what I thought was ice cream for my son last night and I notice the vanilla says ice cream on the carton and the butter pecan says ‘frozen dairy dessert.’  After yelling like a crazed health whack, reading the ingredient list, then yelling some more and finally reassuring my son that, “Yes, you can still eat this bowl of whatever-it-is that’s sitting in front of you,”  I resolved to do a little research today.  Here’s what I found and what Breyer’s is hiding from you!!!

The Breyers website has nutrition and ingredient information from April of 2010 when all of the flavors in the natural line (we won’t even talk about their version of super-chewy-brownie-fudge-oreo-sugar-chemical-soup-with-caramel now) were still called ice cream.  Very convenient.  The ingredients listed for the 2010 butter pecan ice cream on the Breyer’s website are: Milk, Cream, Sugar, Butter Pecans (Pecans, Butter, Cottonseed Oil, Salt), Whey, Natural Flavor, Natural Tara Gum, Salt.  10 ingredients if you don’t count salt twice, and I would argue that the natural flavor is suspicious… which natural flavor would that be?  This is a far cry from the Breyer’s ice cream which only had recognizable, could be found in your own kitchen, ingredients.  But wait!  It gets worse!  The ingredients on MY carton of 2012 Breyer’s Frozen Dairy Dessert are: milk, sugar, corn syrup, butter pecans (pecans, cottonseed oil, butter (cream, salt), salt), cream, whey, mono and diglycerides, salt, carob bean gum, guar gum, natural flavors, carrageenan, lactose enzyme, annato (for color), vitamin A palmitate, tara gum.  20 INGREDIENTS.  Did I mention CORN SYRUP.  I AM MOST UNHAPPY WITH YOU BREYERS!!

Upon further investigation I find that some of the 2010 flavors, like coffee, include caramel color which is REALLY bad – CSPI list of ‘food additives to avoid.

Shame on you Breyers.  And shame on me for not being more vigilant about reading labels before buying.  Apparently you can no longer assume that a company that built it’s reputation on all-natural ingredients continues in that vein.  We are going to purchase a Cuisinart ice cream maker and make ice cream from organic milk and other ingredients that are in my kitchen.  We can then add the following toppings for added zing…

crushed natural graham crackers (be sure to read the label) & slivered almonds
strawberries and banana or pineapple
crumbled homemade cookies or brownies
natural or homemade granola
a drizzle of maple syrup and walnuts
shredded coconut  – also a yummy addition if you toast it lightly in the oven or toaster oven

And yes, we will finish the ice cream and ‘frozen dairy dessert’ in the freezer.  I am a ‘health whack’ AND a cheapskate, so the former self will have to be satisfied with an alternate plan for the future in this case.  Enjoy the most natural ice cream you can find or afford, but don’t forget to read your labels because you never know what they are sneaking into the food these days!  Tell us what you add to your ice cream?