Despite its soaring popularity, Halo Top might be in some serious trouble with fans after committing the most egregious of dessert-based faux pas—messing with a person’s ice cream.
In a recent lawsuit filed against the ‘healthy’ ice cream company in California, plaintiffs Gillian Neely and Youssif Kamal claim that they “paid for a full pint of Halo Top but did not receive a full pint.” That alone is—in many ice cream lovers’ opinion—just cause for a class-action lawsuit. But it appears Halo Top’s underfilling is a bit more pervasive than that.
As reported by Food Navigator USA, the lawsuit alleges that the underfilling is random and has no correlation between flavor or store location. The suit also contains a sobering reminder that Halo Top customers aren’t able to tell if their ice cream is short of a full pint until they open it. In other words, until it’s too late. MUNCHIES reached out to Halo Top for comment, but has not heard back as of press time. (Update 6/26/18: A Halo Top spokesperson told MUNCHIES: “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.”)
And while I’m throwing around the words ‘alleges’ and ‘claimed,’ it appears that Halo Top is fully aware of this problem (Ahem, alleged problem) considering they have a ‘low fill form response’ page on their website “specifically for consumers to report under-filled pint containers to Halo Top.” Unhappy customers can submit grievances and pictures of the underfilled pint in question, along with the flavor of ice cream and the name of the store where they purchased the low-calorie dessert.
Lawyers told Food Navigator that Halo Top is probably going to frame their defense around a ‘slack fill’ issue, arguing that the amount of empty space in the pint is permissible under certain California legislation. ‘Slack fill,’ or the empty space in a food product that’s typically used to protect the contents during transport, is perfectly legal in the Golden State, so long as the product isn’t filled to a point “substantially less than its capacity.” What California doesn’t allow, however, is ‘nonfunctional slack-fill,’ or empty space that serves no purpose but to mislead the consumer.
This isn’t Halo Top's first brush with possibly-frivolous lawsuits. Just last month, a Queens man sued the company after discovering that it was actually diet ice cream. The gentleman, one Josh Berger, claimed the fact that the product was technically ‘light ice cream’ was not apparent on the packaging. He then—in the classic American tradition—filed a tort case against Halo Top’s parent company, Eden Creamery LLC, in a federal court in Brooklyn. Berger also claimed that "the brand name 'Halo Top' is misleading because consumers often associate the word 'Halo' with the color yellow, consistent with the common dictionary definition which refers to it as a disk or circle of light surrounding or above the head of a saint to represent their holiness. Consumers also know that yellow is the color associated with butter and cream, because of the milk produced by pasture-raised and forage-eating cows." Yikes.
While underfilling pints isn’t really an Erin Brockovich-esque David and Goliath story, it’s still pretty important, I guess. People eat a lot of this stuff (for some reason) and any consumer can appreciate wanting to make sure they aren’t getting ripped off in the freezer aisle. Although I’d wait for the dust to settle on this case before you break out the kitchen scale and start weighing all of your prepackaged foods. Getting Skinny Cow to pay for your next vacation home is still a long shot.