Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Ben & Jerry won’t go au natural

We’d all be lying if we said we never once dreamed about downing a large bowl of Phish Food, Chunky Monkey, Everything But the Kitchen Sink or another delectable creation from the gods at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream after a particularly long and stressful day.

Now, I understand wholeheartedly that ice cream in general is quite satisfying and moment-inspiring regardless of who makes it, for the most part. But Ben & Jerry’s has always been a top-notch favorite.

Since its founding, Ben & Jerry’s has promoted a goodie-two-shoes activism image from their social mission to their economic plan right down to their product mission of making and distributing “the finest quality of all natural… euphoric concoctions.”

On Monday, however, Ben & Jerry’s representatives confirmed that, at the request of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, they will be dropping the phrase “all natural” from all of their products. Along with being a health advocacy group that sounds more like a disgruntled mother’s union than an organization, the CSPI told Ben & Jerry’s as well as other top food companies to remove “all natural” claims if their products contain certain ingredients. Those ingredients include alkalized cocoa, corn syrup, hydrogenated oil and “other ingredients deemed not natural.”

The removal of the phrase will happen gradually across the Ben & Jerry’s product line as well as on their website. They’ve decided to change the labeling regardless of whether they are among those companies that use at least one of those ingredients or not.

Ben & Jerry’s spokesperson, Sean Greenwood, said the company will not be changing any ingredients, but the beloved ice cream company doesn’t want to continue a battle of the definition of “all natural,” which has different meanings to different people.”

No offense, Ben & Jerry, but no it doesn’t. It’s actually fairly straightforward.

Similarly, another upcoming CSPI fight against the FDA will involve the lack of existence of a formal, government definition of the term “natural.”

While this is true, defining “natural” is pretty much a common sense issue. I’m willing to bet that if you were to ask a group of people what they would expect from an all-natural product, you will probably receive close, if not identical answers. No additives, moderate to no processing, no chemical alterations, from-the-ground ingredients. It’s safe to say that it’s a self-explanatory term.

Both sides have a little bit wrong with their respective cases. If push came to absolute shove, I do believe I’d side with the ice cream people, but the phrase removal to seemingly keep the peace feels a touch hand-in-the-cookie-jar-like. At the same time, do I agree with a vendetta against two words on a label? Not so much, but the ease with which Ben & Jerry’s caved means that they knew something wasn’t right.

It’s true that I’ve never believed that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was “all” natural. And yes, it is definitely a poor form of labeling and advertisement if they do include some of the ingredients on the CSPI’s red zone list. But fighting over semantics seems a little petty and not too helpful in a crusade for better health on the part of the CSPI.

The efforts of this health advocacy group would be better suited attempting to revise what we put in our mouths and not just what big businesses put on their containers.

I’m aware of the fact that it’s not the CSPI’s mission to shut down Ben & Jerry’s and that they just aim to evade misconceptions about the product. Honestly though, if anyone assumed that the “all naturalness” of the Ben & Jerry’s label upped its nutrition, then they probably don’t deserve ice cream in the first place. People are still going to eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream like they have since it was founded 1978 and push their spoons onward.

So, good for you, CSPI. Your hard work and petitioning has forever altered the Ben & Jerry’s mislabeling and semi-false advertisement. Ice cream on me!

Debra Flax is a junior majoring in journalism. Her column runs on Thursdays.

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