What’s Really in Your Yogurt? Chobani Ad Campaign Has Rivals Upset

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General Mills is suing rival yogurt maker Chobani over an ad campaign that claims Yoplait yogurt contains pesticide. Here's the skinny.

General Mills is suing rival yogurt maker Chobani. The food giant says that Chobani’s #NoBadStuff advertising campaign goes too far by claiming that Yoplait yogurt contains pesticide.

In a complaint filed in a U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Yoplait yogurt maker General Mills accuses Chobani of false advertising and unfair competition, according to Food Navigator-USA.

Chobani’s #NoBadStuff ad campaign – which debuted Jan. 6 and includes TV commercials, print ads, a website and coupons – implies that its Simply 100 Greek yogurt is better and healthier to eat than Yoplait Greek 100.

In this Chobani TV ad, a woman examines a Yoplait Greek 100 while a voiceover says: “Potassium sorbate? Really? That stuff is used to kill bugs.” Then the woman tosses out the Yoplait yogurt out and eats a Chobani Simply 100 yogurt, which the ad goes on to say is the only 100-calorie Greek yogurt that doesn’t contain preservatives.

According to the complaint filed by General Mills, Chobani’s ads imply that General Mill’s Yoplait Greek 100 is “so dangerous and unfit to eat that consumers should discard it as garbage.”

Potassium sorbate is used to reduce molds and yeasts in many foods. The Generals Mills complaint argues that Chobani’s advertisements are false and misleading.

Contrary to what is falsely communicated by the Chobani Attack Campaign, potassium sorbate has been safely used in food for decades and is widely used in cheese, dips, wine, dried fruit, and many other food products. The FDA concluded years ago that potassium sorbate is a food additive that is Generally Recognized As Safe (“GRAS”).

General Mills claims that Chobani’s advertising campaign not only will hurt sales of its Yoplait Greek 100, but also will permanently damage the company’s reputation. The food giant is requesting that Chobani halt its campaign and compensate General Mills for damages.

Yogurt maker Dannon also recently threatened to sue Chobani over the same ad campaign, which claims that Dannon’s Light & Fit contains artificial sweetener sucralose, which Chobani says is processed with “added chlorine,” according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“Before Dannon could make good on its lawsuit threat, Chobani sued Dannon on Friday in federal court in New York asking for a declaration that its claims for Simply 100 do not constitute false and deceptive advertising,” the Star Tribune explains. “Dannon has since filed a counterclaim against Chobani, saying among other things that chlorine isn’t added to sucralose.”

Chobani has been quick to defend itself against both Dannon and General Mills.

“While I’m not surprised, I’m disappointed that Dannon and General Mills are focused on stopping people from having the facts about artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives,” Peter McGuinness, Chobani’s chief marketing and brand officer, said in a statement. “This campaign is about giving people truthful and accurate information so they can make more informed decisions about the food they buy.”

Do you read food labels? Check out “When Foods Go ‘Natural’ – Does That Really Make Them Healthier?” and “Get Savvy About Food: Use Nutrition Labels and This Cheat Sheet.”

What do you think about Chobani’s ad campaign and the legal maelstrom it’s created? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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