17/01/2017 12:18 PM AEDT | Updated 20/01/2017 12:46 PM AEDT

The Great Ice Cream Lie We've All Been Living, And Eating

Your favourite ice cream is probably not ice cream at all.

Daniel Grizelj
Everything you thought you knew about ice cream is melting away.

We've all got a tub of ice cream somewhere in our freezers -- or so we thought.

If you have a look at your tub, you'll most probably find it's called something like 'premium vanilla' or 'creamy dessert' or 'real dairy vanilla'. The words 'ice cream' will be ominously missing from your label.

That's because most of the icy, creamy stuff we buy in the 'ice cream' section is not ice cream at all. Streets Blue Ribbon? Nope. Bulla Real Dairy Vanilla? No again.

I know. We were sad too.

Getty Images
Sorry son, that's not ice cream you're eating.

So if it's not ice cream, what is it? And how do we get real ice cream?

Let's start with a food standard revision introduced in March 2016 that defines what ice cream is.

What's Ice Cream?

According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand, ice cream is defined as "a sweet frozen food that is made from cream or milk products or both, and other foods, and is generally aerated".

A food that is sold as 'ice cream' must, by law:

(a) be ice cream; and

(b) contain no less than:

(i) 100 g/kg of milk fat; and

(ii) 168 g/L of food solids.

RMIT University adjunct professor Frank Sherkat said the key word in ice cream was 'cream'.

"By definition, an ice cream should have no less than 10 percent dairy cream -- that's where the problem starts," Sherkat told The Huffington Post Australia.

"Cream, as we know, is fattening and there are problems with its level of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. It's not good for your health, it's not good for your heart. Never the less, anything in moderation is not bad for you.

"Eating ice cream is not bad for you, overeating ice cream is."

Some products, they dance around the words.Frank Sherkat

To combat these health downfalls, food manufacturers started looking elsewhere.

"Of course, they were also looking at making the product cheaper," Sherkat said.

"There are a lot of different types of fat that manufacturers can formulate for different applications and many of these fats will perform equal if not better than cream in terms of functionality.

"But they are not dairy cream, so the product of course, is not ice cream.

"Some products, they dance around the words."

So there you have it, your favourite ice cream may not actually be 'ice cream' at all, but that doesn't mean you have to stop loving it.

Bulla Dairy Foods general manager of sales, marketing and innovation Nick Hickford confirmed to HuffPost Australia that while Bulla Creamy Classics was considered ice cream under Australian rules, Bulla Real Dairy Vanilla was not, but it still used real dairy cream -- just not enough to be considered 'ice cream'.

"We're very proud to be one of the remaining Australian made and owned real ice cream brands in the freezer aisle," Hickford said.

"While many brands now turn to the cheaper alternative of using water and milk powder to create their frozen ranges, our number one ingredient for all our dairy products is fresh milk and our number two is cream."

Here's the definitive list of so-called ice cream tubs you can get at supermarkets.

Is definitely ice cream

Bulla Creamy Classics

Bulla Creamy Classics is ice cream but Bulla Real Dairy Vanilla is not.

Ben & Jerry's

Coles Vanilla Ice Cream

Bailey's Original Ice Cream

Sara Lee

Maggie Beer Ice Cream

Homebrand Vanilla Ice Cream

Connoisseur Gourmet Ice Cream

Not labelled ice cream

Bulla Real Dairy Vanilla

Peters Light and Creamy

Peters Original

We're sorry if we ruined the experience of buying ice cream for you.

Nestle Tubs

Coles Vanilla

So Good

Cadbury Dairy Milk Ice Cream

It's worth noting that while these 'ice creams' are not labelled ice cream, there is no way for the consumer to know whether the product meets the Australian ice cream standards or not.

We've assumed the products are not ice cream because they're not labelled as such, and the following companies were contacted for comment:

Coles, which provided a statement saying "The majority of our Coles Brand products are at least 10 per cent milk fat or above";

Unilever, which owns Streets Blue Ribbon, Magnum and Ben & Jerry's;

Peters which owns Peters Light and Creamy, Peters Original, Connoisseur Gourmet Ice Cream, Nestle tubs and Skinny Cow.

Correction: This article originally said Connoisseur Gourmet Ice Cream was not labelled ice cream. It does meet the regulatory criteria to be classified as ice cream, and is reflected on the product label. The article has been amended accordingly.