Politics & Government

State to get $425,000 from Dannon lawsuit

A yogurt maker that asked people with digestive issues to take the "Activia challenge" has agreed to pay 39 states, including Washington, $21 million to settle lawsuits that alleged the company's health claims were inflated.

Dannon, which touted the benefits of “Bifidus Regularis” and “L. casei Immunitas” bacteria, will pay the Washington Attorney General’s Office $425,000 to settle a claim made in a suit the attorney general filed in King County Superior Court.

Dannon has labeled the bacteria in the yogurt by different names in different markets. It was called Bifidus Digestivum in the United Kingdom, Digestivum Essensis in German markets and Bifidobacterium Lactis in Canada.

With their Latin-sounding endings, those names sound scientifically derived. But Dannon told a website several years ago that they are “commercial name(s) for the proprietary strain of Bifidobacterium in Activia” – in other words, marketing creations.

The attorneys general alleged that the bacteria in Activia yogurt and DanActive dairy drink didn’t live up to the hype in Dannon’s ads.

Some studies showed a “modest benefit” to consuming the yogurt for individuals with sluggish digestion. That effect required the consumption of three servings daily. The company claimed that a single serving daily would improve digestion and regularity.

Dannon, in agreeing to the settlement, denied the attorneys generals’ assertions .