PORTLAND, Ore. — Dannon Co. Inc. has agreed to pay $21 million over health claims made for its Activia yogurt and DanActive dairy drink in settlements with state and federal regulators.
The food company has claimed that beneficial bacteria in its Activia yogurt helps relieve irregularity and that its DanActive drink boosts immunity.
The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday there is not enough evidence to back the claims in its marketing and packaging. It announced it has reached a settlement with the company that prohibits it from making certain claims unless they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The attorneys general from 39 states, including Kentucky, also announced Wednesday they've reached a $21 million settlement with the food maker over the marketing claims. This case, led by attorneys general in Oregon and Tennessee, represents the largest attorney general consumer protection multi-state settlement ever reached with a food producer.
The two lead states will receive $1.06 million under the agreement, and the remainder of the money will be divided among 38 other states. Kentucky will receive $911,000, according to a statement from the attorney general's office.
"Consumers want, and are entitled to, accurate information when it comes to their health," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. "Companies like Dannon shouldn't exaggerate the strength of scientific support for their products."
Dannon, which is owned by Groupe Danone of France, said it will more clearly convey Activia's benefits on irregularity are confirmed only for three servings a day of the product, not one as the FTC said its current methods imply. It also agrees that DanActive will not be marketed as a cold or flu remedy, which Dannon maintains it has never done.
"Millions of people firmly believe in, benefit from and enjoy these products, and Dannon will continue to research, educate and communicate about the benefits of probiotics on the digestive and immune systems," the company said in a statement.
Dannon settled a class-action lawsuit earlier this year over similar claims from consumers that it inappropriately advertised the benefits of the two products. Less than $1 million of a $35 million fund established in the case was paid out.