Scots business welcomes ‘fake ice cream’ report

A chilling report revealing large numbers of supermarket and branded vanilla ice creams contain no milk, cream or even vanilla has been warmly welcomed by Scotland’s largest producer.

Mackie’s of Scotland has lauded news of the investigation by Which? and has spoken out stating that consumers deserve better quality products.

For more than 30 years the firm has produced ice cream from the family dairy farm in Aberdeenshire – where it has been calling for a better understanding about the ingredients used in many well known ice creams.

Kirstin McNutt, development director with Mackie’s, said: ‘While everyone is fighting a war against fake news, we’ve been trying to get the word out about fake ice cream.

‘It’s really disappointing to see how many brands are cutting corners and cost when it comes to making ice cream but, quite frankly, it’s not something we’re surprised by.

‘Making everything on our family farm, we use top quality fresh milk and cream from our cows. We know that that’s one of the things which sets us apart from the competition – the difference in taste is huge.

‘We’d advise that you always read the label. Many consumers trust the packaging and the name of the product without checking the ingredients – which means they may feel duped when they realise that some ice creams do not even contain cream.’

Mackie’s carried out a taste test at the Royal Highland Show, comparing real dairy ice cream with non-dairy ice cream at Scotland’s Rural College’s (SRUC) sensory taste lab. The 149 blind taste tests found that almost 70% preferred the taste of the dairy sample, Mackie’s Indulgent Madagascan Vanilla, versus a leading Vanilla non-dairy sample.

Professor Eileen Wall of SRUC said: ‘The taste test showed the public significantly preferred the dairy based sample. This preference was consistent across gender and age groups.

‘When we looked into the reasons for this, consumers used a more diverse set of terms compared to those preferring the non-dairy brand including terms such as “creamy”, “flavour” and “natural”.’

Of those who took part, 17% said they didn’t know whether they usually bought dairy or non-dairy.

But commenting on the absence of vanilla in many ice cream recipes, Mackie’s has said that this is an issue that has caused confusion in the industry for decades.

Kirstin added: ‘It might seem strange to many, but real vanilla is an ingredient that is often missing in “vanilla ice cream”.

‘In the gelato homeland of Italy there’s a clear distinction between traditional cream-flavoured ice cream and vanilla ice cream, but in the UK consumers tend to call any white ice cream “vanilla”.

‘There is also some controversy on what vanilla is – real, natural, essence or an artificially made flavour – all of which can cause great confusion among consumers.

‘Our Traditional ice cream contains little more than milk, cream and sugar and it’s by far our best seller. But the great taste simply comes from the fresh milk and cream ingredients, most of which we can get from our dairy herd on our family farm in Aberdeenshire.

‘We do also make an Indulgent Madagascan Vanilla flavour, and as you’d expect, this is made with vanilla. We like our ice cream to do what it says on the tub!

‘Further, flavouring vanilla ice cream with real vanilla is a problem for everyone just now – vanilla prices have skyrocketed recently because of two bad harvests in a row.

‘Vanilla flowers open for just one day a year, so there’s nothing that can be done to produce more quickly.’
Which? reported that only half of the 24 ice creams in the survey contained all three ingredients traditionally included, with the remaining 12 containing either some or none.

A number of the products in its survey substituted cream and milk with partially reconstituted dried skimmed milk and in some cases whey protein. Vanilla was often replaced with a general flavouring.

Mackie’s produces luxury ice cream at its fourth generation family farm, Westertown, in Aberdeenshire. Starting producing ice cream in 1986 using milk and dairy from its own herds, Mackie’s distributes to the UK and worldwide.