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Dannon Settles Charges of Deceptive Advertising for Activia and DanActive for $21 Million; Agrees to Change Marketing Practices
December 15, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: (207) 626-8577
Today, Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills joined the Attorneys General of thirty-eight other states to file settlements with The Dannon Company, Inc. to settle allegations that Dannon made unsubstantiated and unlawful marketing claims about its Activia yogurts and DanActive dairy drinks. The lawsuit filed today by Attorney General Mills alleges that Dannon made unlawful claims in advertising, marketing, packaging, and selling Activia yogurts and DanActive dairy drinks, including claims that were not substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
Under the multistate settlement, Maine will receive $425,000 of the total $21 million settlement. The total settlement is the largest payment to date in a multistate settlement with a food producer. The funds will be used for consumer education or for nutrition education programs.
The Attorneys General and the Federal Trade Commission worked in close cooperation on the investigation, and the Federal Trade Commission also filed a settlement with Dannon today.
Activia yogurt products are sold throughout the United States. Dannon claimed that Activia helped to regulate one’s digestive system through one ingredient, a bacterial strain with purported probiotic benefits that Dannon trademarked under the name Bifidus Regularis. The Attorneys General alleged that Dannon represented that Activia improved intestinal transit time when an individual consumed one serving per day for two weeks. However, the majority of studies demonstrated a benefit only for individuals who consumed three servings per day for two weeks. The Attorneys General also alleged that Dannon made other unsubstantiated and unlawful claims about Activia’s benefits.
Dannon also produces and distributes DanActive dairy drinks. Dannon represented that DanActive provided consumers with “immunity” and cold and flu prevention benefits. The Attorneys General allege that those claims are unlawful and further, that Dannon lacked adequate substantiation to support those claims. As with Activia, Dannon’s advertising and marketing emphasized that DanActive contains a probiotic bacterial strain. In DanActive’s case, Dannon trademarked the bacterial strain under the fanciful name, L. casei Immunitas.
The court order prohibits Dannon from making misleading claims about Activia and DanActive and from representing that these products can prevent, treat, cure or mitigate disease. Dannon does not admit any wrongdoing and denies the factual allegations asserted in the Attorney General’s Complaint. Dannon cooperated with the multistate investigation.
Consumers who have complaints about unsubstantiated health or advertising claims or any consumer matter should contact the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Division at (207) 626-8800.