Jamie Lee Curtis is going to have to change her selling point when advertising Activia yogurt.
According to the terms of a settlement between Federal Trade Commission and Dannon Company Inc., Activia can no longer be advertised as helping to relieve digestive “irregularity” unless the company discloses the amount of the product that must be consumed in order to receive those benefits. Dannon is also required to pay $21 million to resolve the state-level investigations opened by 39 state attorneys general.
The settlement, which was announced today, requires Dannon to drop claims about some of the health benefits offered by its Activia Yogurt and DanActive dairy drink product because the FTC deemed those claims to be “deceptive” and “exaggerated.”
The two products, which are among Dannon’s most successful, contain beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. As part of a national advertising campaign featuring Curtis, the actress who starred in the “Halloween” series and “Trading Places,” Dannon claimed that one daily serving of Activia could relieve irregularity and help with “slow intestinal transit time.” In advertisements for its DanActive product, Dannon claimed that the product could help prevent colds and flu.
In television, Internet, print ads and on the product’s packaging, Dannon also claimed that there was scientific proof to back up those claims.
But according to the FTC, Dannon failed to substantiate those claims and was thus exaggerating the health benefits of those two products. The FTC also alleged that the health claims for Activia and DanActive were proven false by clinical tests.
The FTC contends that it actually takes three daily servings of Activia to help relieve irregularity.
The settlement bars Dannon from making any claims about cold and flu benefits for its products unless those claims are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The company cannot make any claims about treating irregularity with fewer than three servings of a yogurt product a day unless those claims are verified by two clinical trials.
In a prepared statement, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said, “These types of misleading claims are enough to give consumers indigestion. Consumers want, and are entitled to, accurate information when it comes to their health. Companies like Dannon shouldn’t exaggerate the strength of scientific support for their products.”