Monday, September 21, 2009

Dannon recalls immunity claim for Probiotic Drinks

Yogurt manufacturer Dannon has settled a class action lawsuit that alleged that Dannon had, "overstated the yogurt's health benefits" of its Activia and DanActive yogurt lines.

There will require changing the advertising approach (see the video of Jamie Lee Curtis promoting Activia:

As part of the settlement, White Plains, N.Y.-based Dannon, a unit of France's Groupe Danone will set aside $35 million to reimburse customers up to $100 per person.

The settlement, which still needs to be approved by the federal district court in Ohio, will require a change in marketing practices -- namely, to "increase the visibility of the scientific names of the unique strains of probiotics that are in each of these products."

There are three classes of claims, with requirements based on the value of the settlement.
  • Claims under $15 - No receipt needed.
  • Claims $15 - $30 - No receipt needed, must swear under penalty of perjury.
  • Claims $30 - $100 - Receipts required and must be submitted under penalty of perjury.
According the settlement, qualified consumers should provide within reason: how many of each product was purchased, where it was purchased, the price paid, and approximately when the purchase was made. As with all class action lawsuits the claims will be handled by a third party and the actual amount paid may vary depending the number of individuals who file claims.

Michael Neuwirth, a spokesman for Dannon, explained the settlement saying, "The decision to settle this case is based on the Company's desire to avoid the distraction and expense of litigation and to quickly resume 100% focus on making products that provide proven health benefits to millions of highly satisfied consumers. This resolves the plaintiff's concerns while affirming the essence of the claims of Activia and DanActive, which are substantiated by years of scientific research."

Dannon is also cooperating with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is currently reviewing similar claims. The FTC routinely reviews consumer advertising and Dannon is confident the matter will also be resolved soon.

When the settlement is finalized consumers will be able to submit their claims by visiting (which is not yet active) or visit the CSGRR Web site to be notified when the claim form is available., the Web site of the trade publication Adweek, reported on Friday that the settlement was believed to be the largest for food-related consumer complaints.

Is the case coming closure good for the consumers? Definitely, the positive signs overweight the negative aspects. I am not even considering impact of the monetary compensation, since it is mostly enrich the class action lawyers. But, we all want the manufacturers being more responsible with their claims and more cautious before promising you a miracle cure from any health-related problems.  

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