Chobani Sued Over Allegedly False Advertising

A putative class action lawsuit filed on Sunday against Chobani LLC claimed that its low fat Greek yogurt is fraudulently advertised and contains claims about nutrition, ingredients, and allergens which are “false, deceptive, and misleading.” and that the product in reality has unnatural ingredients. 

The plaintiff, Lori Gilker, noted that the product claimed to be “advanced nutrition yogurt” which is “easy to digest,” had no added sugar, and contained only natural ingredients. Specifically, the plaintiff noted that the strawberry and vanilla yogurt packaging each depicted the “characterizing flavor ingredient,” leading the consumer to believe that the ingredient is included in the product.

Allegedly, the product’s name, “Complete Nutrition” is misleading to consumers because the product does not contain everything a consumer would need to eat in order to have a nutritious diet.  The plaintiff claimed that reasonable consumers would understand “complete” to mean that all of the required parts are present. Additionally, the plaintiff alleged that the product’s “advanced nutrition” claim is false because the ingredients in the yogurt are not more advanced than other items in the market.

Regarding claims about nutrient content in the yogurt, the plaintiff explained that the claims must meet certain criteria developed by the Food and Drug Administration, additionally, the nutrients promoted must be those which have value under the established Reference Daily Intake or Daily Reference Value. The complaint said that these nutrient lists do not include probiotics which are advertised on the Chobani product.

Gilker alleged that “consumer enthusiasm for probiotics is based on the unregulated messages conveyed by companies which sell these products, which is a multibillion-dollar industry.” Further, the plaintiff purported that only those who have intestinal disorders would possibly benefit from probiotics, and that healthy individuals could be harmed.

According to the plaintiff, the benefits of probiotics are currently theoretical and the probiotics the defendant claims to have in its yogurt should not be advertised on the packaging as a benefit. Additionally, the yogurt reportedly claims to have “more probiotics,” by using a “+” symbol but does not compare the amount to anything specific.

Additionally, the complaint alleged that Chobani’s yogurt contains a high-intensity, non-nutritive sweetener which is reportedly not natural, rather than vanilla.  The plaintiff claimed that reasonable consumers rely on the claim that the yogurt contains natural ingredients, and paid more for the yogurt than they would have if it were represented correctly. 

Gilker is represented by Spencer Sheehan, an attorney who has filed hundreds of similar lawsuits alleging fraud in the food industry.