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Dannon Activia Yogurt Class Action Lawsuit
By Sarah Pierce
Yet another yogurt brand has been slammed with a class action lawsuit claiming it’s selling a product that can’t legally be called yogurt. It is the third so-called “fake yogurt” class action lawsuit to be filed in four months.
Unlike the first two false advertising class action lawsuits, which target Greek yogurt products manufactured by Cabot/Agri-Mark and General Mills, the latest class action lawsuit targets regular yogurt manufactured by Dannon. According to the lawsuit, Dannon Activia yogurts do not meet FDA-approved standards of identity because they contain an ingredient that is not permitted in yogurt – milk protein concentrate or MPC. This is the same ingredient at issue in the Cabot Greek yogurt class action lawsuit and the General Mills Yoplait Greek yogurt class action lawsuit. MPCs are used as fillers to create a thicker product.
The problem, Plaintiffs argue, is that MPC is a food additive that is not on the FDA’s approved list of additives “Generally Regarded as Safe” to be used in yogurt, a standard of identity for yogurt that was set in 1981. Therefore, any “yogurt” product that contains MPC is misbranded under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and cannot be sold as yogurt, class action lawsuit Plaintiffs say.
“Activia… is not made the way yogurt is supposed to be made. Unlike other brands, Dannon adds water and fillers to Activia in order to make a cheaper product,” the Activia yogurt class action lawsuit states.
“The FDA’s standard of identity for yogurt does not list water, food starch, corn starch, xanthan gum, inulin or MPCs in the list of permitted ingredients. Therefore, they are prohibited.”
Dannon responded to the claims raised in the Activia class action lawsuit by calling them “baseless,” “poorly informed and frivolous.”
“Activia is a yogurt and is correctly labeled. Food companies have been adding MPC under the direction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1982. The FDA specifically states that the addition of MPCs is permitted in yogurts,” a Dannon spokesman said.
He added: “MPCs have been widely used – and widely stated as being used on [packaging] – so the idea that consumers have been deceived is absolutely not the case.”
So who’s to believe? According to FoodNavigator-USA, an official at National Yogurt Association (NYA) said the FDA had never enforced the provisions of the 1981 standard that would restrict ingredients such as MPCs and WPCs (whey protein concentrates) because it never held a public hearing on the provisions questioned by multiple industry entities.
“The existence of stayed provisions creates multiple gaps in the standard, for which no guidelines exist. In addition, industry practices and FDA policies often differ from, or are not explicit in, the standards. Thus, on consulting the standards, one cannot discern which provisions FDA currently enforces for manufacturing yogurt,” the NYA official said.
Sounds like the confusion about MPCs in yogurt may finally be cleared up in court.
The Dannon Activia false advertising class action lawsuit is seeking damages and restitution for a proposed Class of all U.S. consumers who purchased Activia.
A copy of the Dannon Activia Yogurt Class Action Lawsuit can be read here.
The case is Kristie Conroy v. The Dannon Company, Inc., Case No. 12-cv-6901, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. The Plaintiff is represented by Scott A. Bursor, Joseph I. Marchese and Neal J. Deckant of Bursor & Fisher, P.A.
Updated September 25th, 2012
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