Jamie Lee Curtis
Attorney General John Kroger today announced a $21 million multi-state agreement with The Dannon Company, Inc. to settle allegations related to unsubstantiated and unlawful marketing claims about its yogurt and dairy drink products. This case represents the largest attorney general consumer protection multi-state settlement ever reached with a food producer. "Companies are not entitled to make statements that they can't back up,” said Attorney General Kroger. "Consumers must know the truth about the products they are buying." Oregon was a lead state in the investigation into Dannon's nationwide marketing campaign centered on the health benefits of its Activia brand yogurts and DanActive brand dairy drinks. 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. Dannon also represented that DanActive dairy drinks would provide consumers with “immunity” and would help strengthen the body's anti-infectious defense mechanisms. Those claims also lack adequate substantiation. Oregon consumer protection law prohibits companies from making claims about the health benefits of a product without backing them up with competent and reliable scientific evidence. Oregon will receive $1.06 million under the agreement filed today in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The remainder of the money will be divided among 38 other states. The settlement terms limit the statements Dannon can make about Activia and DanActive and prohibit the company from making any claims about the health benefits, efficacy or safety of its probiotic food products unless they are substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Assistant Attorney-in-Charge David Hart and Assistant Attorney General Merrill Maiano handled the case for the Oregon Department of Justice.