Monday, September 28, 2009

Deceptive Practices in the Yogurt Business?

A recent class action lawsuit against Dannon resulted in a $35 million out of court settlement, which as you know, means that a lot of consumers will get a 50 cent discount on yogurt while the attorneys take home millions in legal fees. But, at least it taught this manufacturer a lesson that it cannot tout health benefits that are not there.

It has been announced that the same firm which succeeded with Dannon is now going after General Mills, which is being sued over probiotic claims once again (like Dannon) for its products in the Yo-Plus lineup. The action was brought to a Florida court and it claims that General Mills has made misleading and completely unsubstantiated gut health claims.

The lawsuit claims that the General Mills’ statements were “immoral, unethical, unscrupulous and substantially injurious to consumers”, and in breach of both its contract with consumers and its warranties. Wow, that's a fairly broad argument, especially throwing in morality and all. The claims in question suggest Yo-Plus could regulate digestive health benefits that other similar products could not.

General Mills told an industry reporter that it would not comment on ongoing litigation. Yo-Plus contains the Bifidobacterium lactis strain BB12 and is one of the best-selling probiotic products in the US, behind Dannon’s spoonable yougurt, Activia, and drinkable one-shot yogurt, DanAactive (the subjects of the earlier lawsuit). The lawyers state that not only do studies conducted by General Mills fail to support their claims, some of them, “flatly contradict” them.

I hate class action lawsuits. But I guess my opinion is that if there is no other way to clean up faulty claims, than a large penalty should make most companies pay attention. I just wish that someone would benefit other than the attorneys, or that they would give a significant portion of their earnings back to some non-profit in the natural products industry.

Let's face it -- you can't get a significant dose of probiotics from a yogurt. It just ain't there. You need BILLIONS of colony forming bacteria, and there isn't a yogurt manufacturer today putting that quantity of this expensive ingredient into a yogurt. If you want to try a great tasting product with 20 Billion CFU's per serving, try somethlng like Good Belly, the wonderful little fruit drink in a shot-glass sized container. (We have no affiliation - that's a personal recommendation only).


No comments: