December 15, 2010
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said today Missouri has reached a settlement with The Dannon Co., Inc., to settle allegations that Dannon made unsubstantiated and unlawful marketing claims about Activia yogurt and DanActiva dairy drinks. The Federal Trade Commission and 38 other attorneys general also today filed a settlement with Dannon.
Koster said the attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission worked in close cooperation on the investigation. Under the multistate settlement, Dannon will pay Missouri $425,000. The total settlement of $21 million is the largest payment to date in a multistate settlement with a food producer.
"Consumers should be able to trust that a product will do what it is advertised to do," Koster said, "and companies have a legal obligation to advertise their products truthfully and accurately. This settlement will bring that message home to companies operating in the United States."
Koster alleged that Dannon advertised that Activia helped to regulate an individual's digestive system based largely on the presence of one ingredient, a bacterial strain with purported probiotic benefits. The company advertised that Activia improved intestinal transit time when an individual consumed one serving per day for two weeks. However, the majority of scientific 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. The company advertised that DanActive provided consumers with "immunity" and cold and flu prevention benefits. The attorneys general allege that those claims are unlawful because Dannon lacked adequate substantiation to support those claims. As with Activia, Dannon's advertising and marketing emphasized that DanActive contains a probiotic bacterial strain.
The settlement terms limit the claims that Dannon can make regarding Activia and DanActive. Specifically, Dannon may not represent that these products can prevent, treat, cure or mitigate disease. Additionally, Dannon must possess competent and reliable scientific evidence to support otherwise permissible claims about the health benefits, performance, efficacy or safety of its probiotic food products.