Activia Fails Challenge of FTC, Fined $21 Million

activiaThat catchy little tune ("ac-tiv-ee-ah!"), spokeswoman Jamie Lee Curtis, and the Activia challenge have sent plenty a constipated person in search of  the Dannon yogurt that promises to naturally regulate a digestive system in just two weeks. Turns out, those promises may be false, or at least over-hyped. Dannon Co. Inc. has to cough up $21 million  for claims that its Activia yogurt keeps you regular and its DanActive drink boosts immunity.

That's steep, but good news for consumers. While marketing and spin are one thing, groceries are expensive, and we should be able to trust that they do what their labels say they're going to do. Sure, in theory we should probably research and analyze every ingredient of what we ingest and know what it's doing to our bodies, but who has time for that? We have to be able to trust those supplying our food to some degree ... as difficult as it is with a new recall in the news every day.


"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."

No, they shouldn't, and it looks like the FTC is cracking down like they promised to earlier this year.

This summer Nestle had to drop claims that its Boost Kid Essentials Drink "prevents upper respiratory tract infections in children, protects against colds and flu by strengthening the immune system, and reduces absences from daycare or school due to illness."

Earlier this week, NBTY, who makes kids' vitamins, was fined $2.1 million for false claims about the amount of omega-3 their products contain. In October the FTC filed charges against POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice for falsely claiming it can cure and prevent everything from cancer to erectile dysfunction.

Hopefully, other companies will get the message and rethink some of their marketing strategies. Promote your products all you want, but when you exaggerate, stick to how good it tastes -- at least that's subjective.

Are you surprised that Activia's claims aren't legitimate? Do you trust what you read on food labels in general?

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