"The carefully cultivated socially liberal image of Ben & Jerry's ice cream has suffered a knock with a decision by the Vermont-based manufacturer to stop calling its food "all natural" following pressure from a watchdog that questioned whether ingredients such as partially hydrogenated soya bean oil fitted the billing.
Founded by two college friends who set up a "scoop shop" at a dilapidated petrol station in 1978, Ben & Jerry's has been owned by the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever since 2000 and has become a popular premium ice cream on both sides of the Atlantic. Its founders are renowned for their activism on causes ranging from global warming to poverty reduction, liveable wages and free-range eggs.
Ben & Jerry's mission statement trumpets an aim to make "the finest quality, all-natural ice-cream and euphoric concoctions" and to promote business practices that "respect the earth and the environment". But the firm has come under fire from the Washington-based Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which took issue with ingredients such as alkalised cocoa and corn syrup as well as partially hydrogenated soya bean oil."
Andrew Clark reports for the UK Guardian September 28, 2010.