Gen. Mills Yogurt Claims Lead to Class-Action Suits

The company is being sued in four states-California, Ohio, Florida, and New Jersey-over the marketing and advertising of its Yoplait Yo-Plus Yogurt, which claims to have digestive health benefits.

Claims made by Golden Valley-based General Mills about how its Yoplait Yo-Plus Yogurt naturally regulates digestive health have landed the company in court in four states.

The manufacturing giant is facing class-action suits in California, Ohio, Florida, and New Jersey. The suits claim that the company's marketing and advertising of its Yo-Plus Yogurt is “false, misleading, and reasonably likely to deceive the public.”

The Yo-Plus yogurt hit the market in 2007 and, according to marketing materials, is “the only yogurt on the market with Optibalance, which helps put digestion back on track.”

The plaintiffs-who are being represented by Florida law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, LLP-argue that the company has no support for some of the claims it makes, including that that Yo-Plus naturally regulates digestive health and provides consumers with additional digestive health benefits that other yogurt products do not.

“In fact, General Mills has never tested Yo-Plus for its ability to deliver the unique health benefits claimed in its advertising campaign,” the Ohio suit said. “Nonetheless, as a result of General Mills' deceptive advertising campaign, General Mills charges a premium for Yo-Plus.”

Two of the four suits-those filed in California and Florida-have already been certified as class-action suits and the other two-filed in Ohio and New Jersey-are in the process of seeking certification.

The plaintiffs have requested a jury trial and are seeking unspecified compensatory damages.

“We're happy to let a jury decide whether or not this advertising campaign is unfair and deceptive to consumers,” Cullin O'Brien, an attorney with Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, LLP, told Twin Cities Business on Thursday.

In an e-mailed statement, General Mills said that it has a standing practice of not commenting on pending litigation. But in court documents, the company denies the allegations that its advertising and marketing of Yo-Plus is deceptive.

General Mills isn't the first company to face class-action litigation regarding claims made about the benefits of yogurt products. Last year, White Plains, New York-based Dannon reportedly paid $45 million to settle a similar class-action suit regarding its Activia and DanActive Yogurt Products.

General Mills is Minnesota's eighth-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $14.8 billion during its most recently completed fiscal year.

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