A customer from California has initiated a class-action lawsuit against Traeger, the popular manufacturer of wood pellets and associated smokers.
At the root of the complaint is that the consumer was attempting to up his BBQ game and purchased Traeger mesquite pellets. He was disappointed to find the food that he grilled had no mesquite flavor.
The resulting lawsuit alleges that Traeger, while representing that each pellet (whether labeled apple, cherry, peach, etc..) and "100% hardwood", actually uses a blend of mostly alder and oak in all of their pellets, using a patented oil flavoring to provide the labeled flavor of the wood.
Pitmasters across America have long described the Traeger pellets as mild in flavor. It is also well known that some other pellet and wood chip manufacturers use a hardwood blend, usually containing a portion or even majority of oak due to its being relatively inexpensive in the U.S.A. .
The fact is that there is not FDA or any other governmental oversight in the industry, so manufacturers are free to create their own labeling standards, practices and definitions.
In the barbecue world, it is customary to smoke with whatever local hardwood is indigenous to your area. In Ireland, I used apple, and at a class with Paul KIrk in Canada, we used maple. If you were in Georgia, it might be peach or hickory.
If you live here in Arizona or surrounding southwestern states, I recommend you try smoking with our easily available mesquite charcoal, as opposed to the local raw mesquite wood chunks or chips. In my opinion, the smoke has a mellower and richer flavor, and unlike the green or raw chips and/or chunks, it is very difficult to over-smoke with it.