FTC: Dannon Agrees To Stop Selling Activia As Cure For Irregularity

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.

Dannon Agrees to Drop Exaggerated Health Claims for Activia Yogurt and DanActive Dairy Drink [FTC.gov]


Edit Your Comment

  1. blinky says:

    I thought all yogurt was about the same (I mean, it’s fermented milk, right?) until I tried activia. It’s disgusting.

    • full.tang.halo says:

      I’m not sure which is more disgusting, the yogurt or having to hear about people not being able to take a crap regularly on national prime time TV.

    • Arcaeris says:

      Most yogurt at the supermarket is not like real yogurt just made from milk and culture. It contains a lot of “body” and thickening agents, like gelatin, pectin, cornstarch, and calcium phosphate.

      Then they add in a lot of artificial sweeteners, “naturally derved” fruit flavors and colors, and other phosphates and stuff. From Dannon’s own website, “potassium and sodium phosphate help prevent the naturally derived fruit color from mixing in with the white yogurt.”


  2. Graymalkin56 says:

    Jamie Lee Curtis is the spokesmodel for Activa. That’s the only recommendation I need. I gave up on T-mobile when they switched from Jamie Lee to that foreign hussy Catherine Zeta-Jones.

    • lolBunny says:

      Now they don’t even have her. Now its some no-name skinny chick mimicking the classic Mac/PC commercials.

      • Graymalkin56 says:

        The skinny no-name chick apparently HAS a name — Carly Foulkes. Canadian model.

        • Murph1908 says:

          FYI, the term ‘no-name’ refers to someone who is primarily unknown. Not that said person really has no name.

          Even after your identification of said model, I still believe the ‘no-name’ tag applies.

          • nonsane says:

            In Canada we have a no-name brand out of Superstore.
            So the slang here is if it has no brand, it’s no-name, and also used in situations where they should have a something and replacement was used.

  3. lolBunny says:

    The thing is, all yogurt has the bacteria cultures that good for your digestive tract. Ever have the runs or constipation? Try eating a yogurt or two a day. This isn’t a cure but the good bacteria help to get things normal again. Doesn’t matter if its Dannon, Yoplait, store brand, all yogurt has these cultures.

    • minjche says:

      I think all yogurts have cultures, yes, but not all have the specific “bifidus regularis” culture that Activia has.

      • wastedlife says:

        And there is extremely flimsy evidence that “bifidus regularis” culture is beneficial to the human digestive tract when compared to any other yogurt culture. If someone can find some evidence not sponsored by Dannon I would love to see it.

        • cyberpenguin says:

          The thing is that it is not even a specific culture. It is a specific strain trademarked for marketing purposes.

          Bifidis regularis is a creation of marketing and lawyers, not of science and labs.

      • cyberpenguin says:

        No one but Dannon has Bifidis regularis because that is a trade name for a specific strain of Bifidobacterium animalis, which all yogurts have.

        The statement “all yogurts have cultures, yes, but not all have the specific “bifidus regularis” culture that Activia has” is akin to saying all grocery stores have milk, yes, but not all have the specific brand Member’s Mark that Sam’s Club has.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      But Dannon is trying to allude/assert that their “special patented bacteria” is better for you. Their bacteria is just a sibling of the same bacteria that is in my Shop Rite yogurt. The difference is that my Shop Rite yogurt doesn’t get on TV trying to tell me that it will cure something. And therein, as the bard would tell us, lies the rub.

  4. Bativac says:

    I feel so betrayed by Dannon, and by Mister Lee Curtis. Not only am I still irregular but I have been eating one of these terrible yogurt cups every day for NOTHING.

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    They promised me regularity if I used activia for a year straight. Its been almost a year for me, does this mean that now it won’t work?

  6. Alvis says:

    Eww, transit time?

  7. FireJayPa says:

    Can’t I just drink some prune juice?

  8. Beeker26 says:

    Yeah, in the meantime Dannon’s been selling this junk for years. Exactly how much money did they make from conning people? Nothing like prompt regulatory action. Funny enough I was just at the supermarket today and the chick in front of me had like 6-8 cartons of the stuff.

    • Etoiles says:

      I bought two last week because it was the cheapest yogurt available NOT made with aspartame. (To which I have very deeply unpleasant reactions.)

      Sometimes people have reasons for things that aren’t the ones in your head.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Shop Rite Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt is ~$2.25 for 2 pounds and contains: Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Malk, Sugar, Nonfat Malk Solids and Vanilla. Also contains Active Yogurt Cultures.

  9. FatLynn says:

    Dannon is now sponsoring studies so they can make more claims.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Yes, I see a loophole or two in the works for these settlements…

      “unless the claim is not misleading” = loophole opportunity #1

  10. runchadrun says:

    You mean The Yogurt That Helps Jamie Lee Curtis Poop doesn’t actually help her poop?

  11. adamczar says:

    “Dannon agreed to more clearly convey that Activia’s beneficial effects on irregularity and transit time are confirmed ….. Dannon also agreed that DanActive will not be marketed as a cold or flu remedy, which Dannon maintains it has never done.

    In short, nothing will change.

  12. Chairman-Meow says:

    I actually tried this “yogurt” since the Activa bandwagon showed-up at my job one day.

    I told the smiling Activa person that this has to be the worst product I have ever tasted in my life. It’s Yogurt for people who hate the taste of yogurt but want to feel like they are trying to be “healthy”.

    The commericals were horrible as well. Nothing like hearing people chime-in concerning their bowel movements that makes me want to run right out and buy this crap. /pun

    • MosesKabob says:

      It gave me cramps when I tried it. Took me a few days to make the connection but I stopped my 14 day quest after day 9. And I only ate one a day, not three. Can only imagine the pain of three.

  13. JulesNoctambule says:

    Does this mean those godawful commercials will never air again? If so, high-five to the FTC!

  14. neilb says:

    I have wanted the FDA to step in about this for a long time. This is snake oil salesmanship. No one I have asked has any idea what the tested effect really was.

    The ads should be truthful about the experimental results: Stool passage times were shortened by several minutes in the experimental group compared with the control group.

    Let me help write with that copy:
    “Dannon…we help some people poop several minutes earlier than they might have otherwise!”

    That is why they have to lie. The truth is not worth telling.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      did the poops race? were people giving a lot of food coloring so that the poops would be more esily identified by the spectators?

      in all seriousness though, how did they time these poops and how could the study show it was the yogurt and not the rest of the turd makers’ diets?

  15. miggles says:

    Great. Now that damned jingle is in my head.

  16. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    But it has S. Bifidis Regularis! Or whatever name they made up for the supposed beneficial biotics in there.

    It absolutely kills me how marketeers so blatantly try to smack you in the face with something that utterly stupid…and how braindead consumers eat it up. In this case, literally. “Oooo…it’s “regularis” – that’s like Latin for “makes you regular” right?”

  17. Saltpork says:

    Live active culture yogurt is pretty much all the same. There is a difference between yogurt without live cultures and yogurt with live cultures.

    There is no magical yogurty fix for irregularity & people who believed the hype about this overpaid. Their bifidis regularis bacteria hasn’t been proven to do or not do squat. It’s lactic acid based yogurt cultures. Wheeee.

    You want to be regular? Intake insoluble & soluble fiber from plants and grains. Eat yogurt, any yogurt that has live cultures. Price doesn’t matter, live cultures do.

  18. Press1forDialTone says:

    I just -knew- this was a questionable career move for Jamie….
    She’s no bonehead, she should have known better.

  19. justagigilo85 says:

    *These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

    Problem solved. You’ll keep seeing commercials, but with a disclaimer now. Didn’t solve shit here.

    And stop taxing my fast digesting carbs, you dolts.

  20. tiz says:

    oh i LOVE activia! it’s really tasty. i didn’t buy it because it made me poop

  21. trencherman says:

    FTC or not, it has helped me poop. Of course, all yogurt with live cultures does that for me.

  22. I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

    I don’t think the yogurt does much for my regularity, but probiotics can assist in a number of things. I’m just waiting for more studies on probiotics so that companies CAN make these claims of improved health.

    Also, try kefir.