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Ad campaign has Greek yogurt makers ready to fight it out in court

It's no surprise to see rivals in the highly competitive food and beverage industry engaging in bitter battles to secure more space on shelves and more consumer dollars.  Indeed, the preferred weapons of choice in these battles are typically new product offerings, increased market expansion and, of course, advertising campaigns.

Interestingly enough, one of the major players in the Greek yogurt business is now facing legal action over one of its advertising campaigns, which a rival claims is both damaging and misleading.

This past weekend, General Mills, owner of Yoplait, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis accusing Chobani of false and deceptive advertising in connection with its latest marketing campaign for its Chobani Simply 100, a lighter offering with only 100 calories.

Specifically, the lawsuit accuses Chobani of declaring in its marketing campaign for Chobani Simply 100 that Yoplait's Greek 100, its direct competitor, is essentially toxic and akin to a pesticide given that it contains potassium sorbate.  

"In fact, the television commercial that leads the Chobani Attack Campaign goes so far to convey that, because Yoplait Greek 100 is laced with a pesticide, it is so dangerous and unfit to eat that consumers should discard it as garbage," reads the complaint.

According to General Mills, potassium sorbate has long been recognized by several federal agencies as a safe and non-toxic food preservative, and that there is no scientific evidence demonstrating that it is an effective pesticide.

In addition to preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, General Mills is also seeking to recover damages.

For its part, Chobani has defended its campaign, indicating that it's only providing people with the information on artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives that they need and deserve.

It's worth noting that Chobani is also currently involved in similar litigation with rival Dannon. This time the false and deceptive advertising claim revolves around Chobani's claim that Dannon's Light & Fit line contains the artificial sweetener sucralose, which is processed with "added chlorine."

It will be interesting to see what transpires in this litigation. Stay tuned for updates.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to business litigation, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about protecting your rights and your brand.

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