Company will pay $150,000 to U.S. Treasury
The Dannon Company, Inc. has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company made false or misleading nutritional claims for its Pure Indulgence line of frozen yogurt. The FTC alleged that Dannon represented that some of the flavors in the Pure Indulgence line were low in fat, low in calories, and lower in fat than ice cream. In fact, when using the serving size for frozen yogurt commonly consumed, according to the FTC, none of these claims were true. The proposed settlement would prohibit Dannon from misrepresenting fat, calories, saturated fat or cholesterol in any such product in the future.
"Advertising should be truthful, no matter what the product," Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protec- tion said. "Of course, when health-related claims are involved, we take our mandate to protect consumers from false and misleading statements in ads very seriously. As this case shows, we will enforce the law in this area with particular care and vigor."
Dannon is headquartered in Tarrytown, New York.
According to the FTC complaint detailing the allegations, advertisements for Dannon's Pure Indulgence frozen yogurt pro- minently included the following statement in television ads:
Beware: the following graphic image may prompt feelings of guilt among viewers.
Hey. It's OK.
It's Frozen Yogurt.
Proceed Without Caution.
The complaint alleges that the statement in the advertising represented, directly or by implication, that Dannon Pure Indulgence is low in fat, low in calories, and lower in fat than ice cream. According to the FTC, at the time the advertisement was broadcast from May through August 1993, certain flavors of Dannon Pure Indulgence were not low in fat, not low in calories and not lower in fat than many ice creams, and that representations to the contrary were false and misleading.
To settle the FTC's charges, a proposed consent agreement announced today for public comment would prohibit Dannon from misrepresenting the existence or amount of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol or calories in any of its frozen food products in the future. In addition, Dannon would be required to pay $150,000 in disgorgement to the U.S. Treasury.
The proposed settlement would not prohibit Dannon from making representations that are specifically permitted in labeling for any frozen food product under FDA regulations.
The Commission vote to place the proposed consent agreement on the public record for comment was 5 - 0. The proposed consent agreement will be published in the Federal Register shortly. It will be subject to public comment for 60 days, after which the Commission will decide whether or not to make it final. Comments should be addressed to: FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $10,000.
Copies of the complaint and proposed consent agreement are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC File No. 952 3391)