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You have probably seen a vibrantly healthy Jamie Lee Curtis on those Dannon Yogurt commercials telling America how Activia yogurt can boost the immune system and regulate the digestive system. Except, it may not. According to a report by ABC news, in a settlement reached last week, the Dannon corporation has agreed to pay a class of plaintiffs up to $45 million dollars to settle claims that Dannon charged more for a yogurt that provided no more benefit than your average carton of Yoplait.
According to ABC News, the suit began in 2008 when a caterer, Trish Weiner, filed a suit in federal court alleging the claims Dannon made about its yogurt products were not true. "Deceptive advertising has enabled Dannon to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ordinary yogurt at inflated prices to responsible, health-conscious consumers," Wiener's attorney, Timothy Blood, told ABC.
ABC says Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa,, a gastroenterologist, agrees. "This was a disingenuous advertising campaign that promised something that hasn't been proven."
The Dannon corporation does not agree, however. The homepage of the Dannon Settlement Website leads off with this company statement: "The lawsuit claims the advertising was not true. Dannon stands by its advertising and denies it did anything wrong. However, Dannon has settled to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation."
The homepage fails to inform visitors that Dannon has also agreed under the settlement to make changes in its ads regarding the yogurt's affect on the immune or digestive system of the consumer. According to ABC, Dannon must remove the words "clinically" and "scientifically proven" from product labels and advertisements of Activia yogurt in reference to its claims the product helps to regulate the digestive system. The company must also remove the word "immunity" from DanActive labels and ads, as well as include a qualifier to the claim the yogurt "helps strengthen your body's defenses" or "helps support the immune system."
The settlement website provides information on how to make a claim under the suit. Any claim from $15-$30 can be made by filling out the form found online. Claims for $30-$100 require a receipt. Any money not claimed by consumers will be donated to charity. The deadline to apply is Oct. 1, 2010.
The settlement still requires final approval from the court. Judge Dan Polster of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio will preside over the approval hearing on June 23.
For more information call 888-418-6122 or go to http://www.dannonsettlement.com/index.php.