Probiotic product pipeline looks unaffected by claims furore

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Health claims, Probiotic, Dannon

The market for probiotic-containing products looks to be uncowed by the recent crackdown on claims by the Federal Trade Commission, with a new Ganeden product launching in Walmart stores.

The FTC has recently waged war on health claims made in relation to products containing probiotic bacteria, with both Dannon and Nestle settling with the watchdog over claims last year.

The new product launching in Walmart is called enLiven. It contains GanedanBC bacteria, which developer Ganedan says “supports digestive health because of its excellent stability”.

On the website for the probiotic, the company says: “GanedenBC30 is the trademarked name for the patented strain of probiotic bacteria, Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086. GanedenBC30 is not a drug. It is a natural supplement that can help support your digestive health and maintain your immune system.”

In the announcement of the new product Carl Freund, vice president of consumer products at Ganedan, emphasised the relatively low cost of the product, as well as the health-conscious formulation, over explicit health claims.

“EnLiven is lower in price, sodium and fat than other leading yoghurt brands,”​ he said.

Softer claims

Regulatory and legal actions forced the subsidiary of French-based Danone to soften its gut health claims for Activia and immunity claims being made for its drinking yogurt DanActive, and the manufacturer paid out $21m to about 40 US states to reimburse claim investigation. Despite not admitting wrong-doing, Dannon has since softened its claims.

This followed a class action saw Dannon agree to modify claims and set up a $35m fund from which consumers could claim up to $100 but the majority of it is being paid to charities because consumers had only claimed about $1m.

Data from IRISymphony that includes supermarkets, drugstores and mass merchandise outlets but excludes Walmart, showed that Dannon did not take a hit in sales as a result of the action. Activia sales reached $444m last year, compared to $383m in 2009 and $161m in its 2006 US launch year.

Nestle also settled with the FTC in July last year over claims relating to Nestlé HealthCare Nutrition’s BOOST Kid Essentials, but it was not dealt a financial penalty. Legal expects predicted that a class action lawsuit could follow, however.

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