General Mills has been awarded a preliminary injunction that will halt Chobani’s adverts contrasting the “natural” ingredients in its Simply 100 yoghurt against the “artificial” additives contained in Yoplait Greek 100 line.
Chibani is facing legal action from General Mills and Danone after comparing the ingredients of Yoplait and Dannon yoghurts with those in Simply 100. In a voiceover taking aim at Yoplait Greek 100, Chobani stated the yoghurt “actually uses preservatives like potassium sorbate… That stuff is used to kill bugs.”
General Mills requested a preliminary injunction to block the ads while the case against the Chobani is made. The company claimed the adverts implicitly suggest potassium sorbate is harmful to health when there is no scientific evidence to support the claim.
Granting the motion, the New York District Court concluded: “Chobani is free to continue to spread its message about the value of selecting natural ingredients. It is not, however, free to disseminate the false message that potassium sorbate renders Yoplait Greek 100 unsafe to consume.”
A spokesperson for General Mills told just-food: “We are pleased by today’s court ruling requiring Chobani to stop their false ad campaign attacking Yoplait Greek 100 yoghurt. General Mills supports fair and vigorous competition between companies, but false advertising only misleads and harms consumers.”
For its part, Chobani said that it would “respect” the preliminary decision while it “awaits its day in court”. However, the group stressed it is “free to continue to spread its message about the value of selecting natural ingredients” adding that it will continue to provide consumers with “more information” on natural versus artificial ingredients.
“This is not a marketing campaign, it’s a mindset campaign, and it outlines the difference between using only natural ingredients versus artificial ingredients,” said Peter McGuinness, chief marketing and brand officer for Chobani. “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.”