Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Announces Settlement with Dannon over Deceptive Advertising of Activia and DanActive
Attorney General Jack Conway announced today that Kentucky will participate in a settlement with The Dannon Company, Inc. (Dannon) to resolve allegations of deceptive advertising involving Activia yogurts and DanActive dairy drinks.
Under terms of the settlement, Dannon has agreed to pay $21 million to Kentucky and 38 other states to settle allegations that the company made unlawful claims in the advertising, marketing, packaging and selling of Activia yogurts and DanActive dairy drinks that were not substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence at the time the claims were made. The states were led in this effort by an executive committee that included representatives from General Conway's office as well as Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
The $21 million payment is the largest to date in a multistate settlement with a food producer. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also filed a settlement with Dannon. The attorneys general and FTC worked in close cooperation on the investigation. Kentucky will receive more than $911,000 for its portion of the settlement.
"Dannon has enjoyed large profits as a result of a deceptive advertising campaign that couldn't deliver on its promises to consumers," General Conway said. "These types of unlawful claims will not be tolerated in Kentucky and I am pleased that Dannon has agreed to change its future marketing practices as part of this settlement."
Activia yogurt products are sold throughout the United States. Dannon represented that Activia helped to regulate one's digestive system based largely on the presence of one ingredient, a bacterial strain with purported probiotic benefits that Dannon trademarked under the name Bifidus Regularis. The Attorneys General alleged that Dannon represented that Activia improved intestinal transit time when consumed one serving per day for two weeks. However, the majority of studies demonstrated a benefit only for individuals who consumed three servings per day for two weeks. The Attorneys General also alleged that Dannon made other unsubstantiated and unlawful claims about Activia's benefits.
Dannon also produces and distributes DanActive dairy drinks. Dannon represented that DanActive provided consumers with "immunity" and cold and flu prevention benefits. The attorneys general allege that those claims are unlawful and further, that Dannon lacked adequate substantiation to support those claims. 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 fanciful name, L. casei Immunitas.
The settlement terms limit the claims that Dannon can make regarding the covered products. Specifically, Dannon may not represent that the covered 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.
Joining General Conway in filing settlements today with Dannon are the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, 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.