Attorney General Reaches Settlement Agreement with Dannon Over Advertising Practices | thgrayson | August 02, 2011


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Attorney General Reaches Settlement Agreement with Dannon Over Advertising Practices

Attorney General Reaches Settlement Agreement with Dannon Over Advertising Practices

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum, along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 38 Attorneys General across the country, today filed agreements with The Dannon Company, Inc. settling allegations of deceptive advertising practices related to the sale of Activia and DanActive products. Under the multistate settlement, Dannon will pay $21 million to the Attorneys General to settle allegations that Dannon made unsubstantiated marketing claims concerning these products. Florida will receive more than $800,000 towards litigation costs and consumer education. The $21 million settlement is the largest payment to date in a multistate settlement with a food producer.

Pursuant to the settlement, the lawsuit alleged that Dannon made claims in advertising, marketing, packaging, and selling Activia yogurts and DanActive dairy drinks that were not substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence at the time the claims were made. The investigation centered on claims that consuming Activia yogurts would help regulate the digestive system based largely on the presence of a bacterial strain with purported probiotic benefits that Dannon trademarked under the name Bifidus Regularis. However, Dannon did not have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support those claims at the time those claims were made.

Dannon, which also produces and distributes DanActive dairy drinks, also represented that DanActive provided consumers with “immunity” and cold and flu prevention benefits. 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 name L. casei Immunitas. The Attorneys General alleged that Dannon lacked adequate substantiation to support those claims at the times those claims were made. 

The settlement terms limit the claims that Dannon can make regarding the covered products; specifically, Dannon may not represent that these Dannon 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. Dannon cooperated with the multistate investigation and denies the factual allegations asserted in the lawsuit. 

In addition to Florida, the 38 states involved in today’s settlement are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin, and the State of Hawaii, Office of Consumer Protection. Today’s settlement is pending judicial approval.


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September 10, 2013


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