In a delightfully silly attempt to skirt some looming legal woes, Ben & Jerry’s has dropped the claim that their ice cream comes from “happy cows.”
The move comes amid ongoing litigation with the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and environmental advocate James Ehlers. Both parties have filed lawsuits against Ben & Jerry’s, accusing the Vermont-based ice cream company of using deceptive advertising to mischaracterize their environmental and animal welfare practices, People reported.
While Ben & Jerry’s initially tried to dismiss OCA’s claim, filed back in July 2018, by claiming that the brand’s messaging wasn’t deceiving “reasonable consumers,” the company has now made it clear to even the most unreasonable consumer that Ben & Jerry’s does not claim to speak for farm animals when it comes to their emotional wellbeing.
“How happy is a cow?” Ben & Jerry’s asked in the brand’s motion. “What should be the first line of a riddle is now the major premise of a lawsuit.” The company went on to argue that the supposedly objectionable term “happy cows” is “non-actionable puffery,” adding that, “happiness cannot be measured objectively.”
Admittedly hilarious quibbles about the subjectivity of cow happiness aside, the lawsuits do raise important questions about environmental and animal welfare standards, which Ben & Jerry’s addressed in a statement to McClatchy News.
“While we haven’t done an official survey of our cows’ happiness, we’re proud of the work we’ve done with Vermont’s family farmers over the past 35 years, and we believe our Caring Dairy program is the most progressive in the industry,” the brand said, adding,”We’re committed to building a resilient, regenerative dairy supply that benefits animals, people, and the planet.”
That’s all well and good, but unfortunately, one haunting question remains: Are the Ben & Jerry’s cows truly happy? We may never know.
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