Monday, 2 June 2008

Activia and the probiotics scam

To help further their health claims, the marketing team at Dannon, which makes Activia, took things a step further. Banking on the power of suggestion, they came up with new names for two strains of bacteria found in their yogurt: bifidus regularis, which supposedly helps regulate your digestive system and L. casei immunitas, which, you guessed it, supposedly strengthens your immune system. Probiotics may have some benefits, but most yogurts contain them—the reason why there is a class action lawsuit accusing Dannon of a false advertising campaign promoting the benefits of their yogurt over others. The suit charges that the claims merely convince consumers to pay more.

I pass this along so that you do not get taken in - as I admit I was.


Scott said...

I am a microbiologist and I am here to tell you that no microbe named Bifidis Regularis exists. In fact no genus named Bifidis exists. And the "regularis" species is downright laughable. No self respecting microbiologist would ever name something "regularis". It's just plain stupidity dreamed up by some marketing person. They took the genus Bifidobacterium and came up with a new "scientific sounding" name, in an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting consumers.

Elendryst said...

That's slightly incorrect, they've trademarked the name on a strain of Bifidobacterium animalis.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Scott. I was a Biochemist before turning to teaching. Trust me, if there is Lactobacillus or Acidophilus or any of the other names of the good bacteria that you see printed on the label of ANY commercial yoghurt, they are probiotic (probiotic being a Greek word; "pro" = for/supporting & "biotic" = of living things; hence "pro-life" or "supporting life"). On a personal note, I've just started eating yoghurt for the first time in my life and I've noticed some improvements in my digestion. My gut is a lot cleaner. I used to pass smelly wind quietly, whereas now I pass odourless wind loudly. I've also found yoghurt to be the best antidote to a hangover, better even than exercise. I will keep eating my Formé and natural Greek yoghurt products and to hell with what channel 9's morning show probiotic pseudo-expert scam crew thinks!