A federal judge has ordered Greek yogurt maker Chobani to yank its ads claiming that its rivals’ Greek yogurt products contain “bad stuff,” such as pesticides and chlorine.
In issuing his ruling, Judge David Hurd of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, says Chobani’s ads were misleading, NBC reports.
Chobani’s #NoBadStuff ads led Yoplait producer General Mills and fellow yogurt maker Dannon to file separate lawsuits against their rival for false advertising.
General Mills said that ads produced by Chobani — a Norwich, New York-based company — implied that its Yoplait Greek 100 is “so dangerous and unfit to eat that consumers should discard it as garbage” because it contains potassium sorbate.
Chobani’s ads also were critical of Dannon’s use of artificial sweetener sucralose in its Light & Fit Greek yogurt, claiming that the sweetener has “added chlorine.”
According to Marketing Daily:
Both sucralose and potassium sorbate have been extensively studied, and both are generally recognized as safe by U.S. food regulators. In his rulings, Hurd wrote that “the balance of record evidence reflects that sucralose is an unusually well-studied compound repeatedly determined to be safe for ordinary consumption,” and that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has stated that potassium sorbate has been found to be “nontoxic even in large quantities.”
Although Chobani has been barred from running the controversial ads, Hurd said “Chobani is free to continue to spread its message about the value of selecting natural ingredients.”
In a press release on the judge’s ruling, Chobani said it will continue to “fight the good fight.”
“This is not a marketing campaign, it’s a mindset campaign, and it outlines the difference between using only natural ingredients versus artificial ingredients,” Chobani chief marketing and brand officer Peter McGuinness said in a prepared statement. “While we’re disappointed by the preliminary ruling, we’re committed to continuing the conversation and it’s good to see big food companies like General Mills starting to remove artificial ingredients from some of their products, like their cereals. In the end, if we can give more people more information while helping other food companies make better food, everyone wins.”
Dannon and General Mills said they’re pleased with Hurd’s ruling.
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