Breyer's Ice Cream Has Tara Gum

Remember the kid who liked Breyer’s Ice Cream because he could pronounce the ingredients? Milk, sugar… Can he pronounce “tara gum”?

A reader writes in to express her displeasure at parent company Unilever’s decision to add tara gum filler to Breyer’s Ice Cream. Karen writes:

I’m writing about some semi-recent reformulations made to Breyer’s ice creams. I think you could have a real impact on, first, getting the word out about the changes the owning company has made, and more generally, adding to the debate about how much label reading consumers should really have to do, and how pissed they can justifiably be if a company alters a long-standing or heavily-marketed brand or stops operating on the principles that attracted customers to it.

I’m 90% one of those whole-organic-slow foods nuts, and the other 10% of the time a voracious label-reader. Every once in a while, some of it rubs off on my family. Today my mother came to me with a complaint about the Breyer’s ice cream she bought (within her price range, it is the only brand that meets my “seal of approval”…). It was different to her — no better than an arby’s shake(!) she claimed — and she was disappointed. I tasted it and agreed — it had a light, ice-crystally consistency – and then read the ingredient list, of course, which contained a couple of less than quality additions.

I jumped online to confirm and find out about the new ingredients, and easily gathered more info on the websites linked below. I’m doubly disappointed by the wikipedia entry, since it seems to have been taken over by the Breyer’s marketing department. Thanks for listening, and I hope you find this worthy of covering.

Thank you,

Karen linked us to this website, which contains an official company response to a customer’s questions about tara gum and what it’s doing in Breyer’s Ice Cream. Unilever’s PR Guy Writes:

In response to your questions regarding the use of tara gum in its ice cream, Breyers is proud of its all-natural heritage. It’s a position we take very seriously and one we work hard to maintain. We value the confidence our customers have in our products and go to great lengths to ensure exceptional quality and great taste.

So when consumers expressed concern over the texture of our products, we responded. By adding a natural gum to Breyers All Natural Vanilla ice cream, we’ve helped to protect the product’s texture while staying true to our all-natural commitment. We use tara gum from natural plant sources to help Breyers ice cream stay creamier and more enjoyable for longer periods of time.

Because ice cream is temperature-sensitive, this addition has further allowed us to ensure the ice cream’s quality throughout it distribution. As you can imagine, ice cream’s taste and texture can be unfavorably affected if exposed to temperature fluctuations during shipping or storage. Our customers describe the problem as ice cream with a “gritty” or “grainy” texture. In fact, growing distribution and increased handling of our ice cream in the marketplace has indeed resulted in greater chances for temperature abuse and heightened potential for texture problems.

Obviously you’re going to have distribution problems if you try to sell ice cream on Lame.

Breyer’s has sold out to the taraguministas. Which ice cream should Karen switch to? Does Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream contain tara gum?—MEGHANN MARCO

Breyer’s Natural Ice Cream And Tara Gum: Unilever’s Response [A Daily Scoop]