A false advertising class action was filed in California federal court against Dreyer’s, claiming that the company mislabeled certain ice cream products with the statement “0 g trans fat.”

In the suit, Mirko Carrea claims that Dreyer’s and Nestle “engaged in a widespread marketing campaign to mislead consumers about the nutritional and health qualities of their ice cream products,” including that their products “were nutritious, healthy to consume, and better than similar ice cream products.”

The suit references the companies’ front-of-package labels, online advertisements, and other promotional materials, and says the defendants violated the Lanham Act and California’s false advertising law.

In addition to the “0 g trans fat” claim, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants advertised the drumstick product as “The Original Sundae Cone” and the “Classic,” which he claimed conveyed that the product was based upon original, wholesome ingredients.

That message, the suit alleges, is misleading and deceptive because the product contains a “highly unhealthy, non-nutritious oil known as partially hydrogenated oil that was not contained in the product as originally formulated.”

As support for his claims, the plaintiff references a recent warning letter sent by the Food and Drug Administration to the defendants in February 2010. The letter cautioned the defendants that certain products were “misbranded” because the product label made a nutrient content claim – “0 g trans fat” – but failed to include the required disclosure statement.

The plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Why it matters: In addition to concerns about FDA regulation, food manufacturers making nutrient content claims must be ready to face lawsuits over product labels and marketing.