More than a year after settling a class-action lawsuit over false advertising claims, Dannon has finally settled a separate but related complaint from the Federal Trade Commission. As a result, the company says it will no longer market unproven health benefits of its Activia and DanActive yogurts.
Both Activia and DanActive contain probiotic bacteria, which Dannon has made the center of its ad campaigns.
In a Worst Ad In America nominated series of commercials for Activia featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, Dannon touted the yogurt as a way to curb irregular bowel movements. Just one serving a day is all it takes to fight irregularity, claimed the ads.
Meanwhile, DanActive was touted for its purported ability to help people avoid catching colds and the flu.
The FTC called BS on the claims made about both of these products and filed complaints against Dannon for deceptive advertising. The FTC also charged that Dannon’s statements that it wasn’t true that the products’ health benefits had been clinically proven.
From FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz:
These types of misleading claims are enough to give consumers indigestion… Consumers want, and are entitled to, accurate information when it comes to their health. Companies like Dannon shouldn’t exaggerate the strength of scientific support for their products.
Details of the settlement:
* Dannon is prohibited from claiming that any yogurt, dairy drink, or probiotic food or drink reduces the likelihood of getting a cold or the flu, unless the claim is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 0
* Dannon may not claim that Activia yogurt will relieve temporary irregularity or help with slow intestinal transit time, unless the claim is not misleading and the ad conveys that three servings of Activia yogurt must be eaten each day to obtain these benefits.
* Dannon may not claim that any other yogurt, dairy drink, or probiotic food or drink will relieve temporary irregularity or help with slow intestinal transit time unless the claim is not misleading and the company has two well-designed human clinical studies that substantiate the claim.
Dannon has also agreed to pay $21 million to 39 states whose attorneys general had opened investigations into similar complaints.
In a statement, Dannon explains its view of the agreement:
After the comprehensive review with regulators of Dannon’s scientific substantiation, consistent with the FTC standards, Dannon agreed to more clearly convey that Activia’s beneficial effects on irregularity and transit time are confirmed on three servings per day… Dannon also agreed that DanActive will not be marketed as a cold or flu remedy, which Dannon maintains it has never done.