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Dannon Settles With F.T.C. Over Some Health Claims
By Timothy Williams
The Dannon Company agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it had improperly claimed that some of its popular yogurt and dairy drinks could help prevent common illnesses and relieve irregularity, the commission announced Wednesday.
As part of a long-running national advertising campaign, Dannon had asserted that a single daily serving of its Activia yogurt could ease irregularity and that its DanActive dairy drink could reduce a person’s likelihood of catching a cold or the flu.
Dannon said it had scientific evidence to back up its assertions, but the commission said that Dannon lacked sufficient medical evidence to make those claims.
The commission said it had worked with 39 state attorneys general in its investigation that Dannon had agreed to pay $21 million to those states to settle the charges.
“Consumers want and are entitled to accurate information when it comes to their health,” Jon Leibowitz, commission chairman, said in a statement. “Companies like Dannon shouldn’t exaggerate the strength of scientific support for their products.”
The commission said Dannon would no longer be allowed to make such health claims unless they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration, even though the commission noted that such review was not typically required.
The requirement, the trade commission said in the statement, “will give Dannon clearer guidance going forward and help ensure that it complies with the settlement order.”
In a statement, Dannon, which is based in White Plains, said it would be more precise in making product claims, particularly in making it clear that three servings each day of Activia was required for relief of irregularity.
“After the comprehensive review with regulators of Dannon’s scientific substantiation, consistent with the F.T.C. standards, Dannon agreed to more clearly convey that Activia’s beneficial effects on irregularity and transit time are confirmed on three servings per day,” the company said. “Dannon also agreed that DanActive will not be marketed as a cold or flu remedy, which Dannon maintains it has never done.”
The statement added that “the essence of Dannon’s advertising remains unchanged and will continue to be truthful and in compliance with all laws and regulations.”
In September 2009, Dannon announced it had settled a class-action lawsuit related to its advertising of the two products. As part of the settlement, the company created a $35 million fund to reimburse consumers and agreed to make changes to the labeling and marketing of Activia and DanActive products.
September 10, 2013
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