Danone has settled a class action lawsuit in Canada relating to claims made on labels, packaging and advertisements for its Activia yogurt and DanActive probiotic drinks products.
The lawsuit, which was filed by Montreal resident Emmanuelle Sonego in October 2009, challenged the advertised benefits of Activia yogurt products and DanActive probiotic drink products – specifically that they aid digestion.
The lawsuit was filed against Danone Inc – the Canadian subsidiary of French dairy giant Danone – in October 2009, following the settlement of an identical suit against Danone’s US division, Dannon.
In both cases, Danone settled the lawsuits without admission of any wrongdoing, but agreed to adjust the advertising claims of both products.
Under the terms of the settlement, anyone who bought or will buy Activia yogurt or DanActive drinks between 1 April 2009 and 6 November 2012 is eligible to claim between $15 and $50 – depending on how much they spent during the period.
Danone has estimated the total amount of potential compensation at $1.7m.
“Danone has amicably settled a class action lawsuit concerning the advertising of our Activia and DanActive brands,” said a statement from Danone following the settlement.
“We assure you that the quality and benefits of these two products remains unchanged. At Danone, we continuously strive to improve the manner in which we communicate. It is for this reason that we have accepted, without acknowledging the grounds raised by the petitioner, to clarify certain of our communications.”
“We now want to focus on what we do best: offering you high-quality yogurt. We continue to believe in our products and the many clinical studies supporting their benefits,” the statement added.
Under the terms of the settlement, Danone Inc. has also agreed to make a number of changes to its advertising and labelling
The firm has agreed to remove the words “clinically proven” and “scientifically proven” from Activia and DanActive brand product labelling, packaging, commercials and advertisements. They will be replaced with: “There are a number of clinical studies that show” or “clinical studies show” or similar phrases that convey the same message.
Danone has also promised to remove the word “immunity” from the product labelling, packaging, commercials and advertisements of its DanActive branded products.
Before claims can be made by the public, the settlement must first be approved by the Quebec Superior Court at a hearing on 6 November 2012.
Danone’s US subsidiary, Dannon, settled an identical lawsuit in the US in September 2009.
In December 2010, Dannon also agreed to pay an additional $21m to 39 state attorneys in relation to their work with the US Federal Trade Commission, which filed the initial lawsuit.