Lawsuit claims Yoplait Greek yogurt isn't yogurt

by Eric Schroeder
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MINNEAPOLIS — A consumer lawsuit has been filed against General Mills, Inc. claiming the Minneapolis-based company’s Yoplait Greek fat free yogurt is neither authentic Greek yogurt, nor yogurt at all. General Mills began selling Yoplait Greek in the United States in January 2010.

“Yoplait Greek does not comply with the standard of identity of yogurt,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed earlier this year in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. “Indeed, Yoplait Greek contain milk protein concentrate (M.P.C.), which is not among the permissible ingredients of yogurt, non-fat yogurt, and low-fat yogurt as set forth under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 C.F.R. 131.200, 21 C.F.R. 131.203 and 21 C.F.R. 131.206.”

The plaintiffs said General Mills marketed and sold Yoplait Greek containing significant levels of M.P.C., and in doing so, they sold a product as yogurt that did not comply with the applicable standard of identity for yogurt.

“Yoplait thus failed to provide purchasers of Yoplait Greek with the yogurt they were led to believe they were purchasing,” the plaintiffs said. “Defendants engaged in unlawful and unfair conduct, causing injury in fact and loss of money to plaintiffs and other consumers who purchased Yoplait Greek.”

The lawsuit described M.P.C. as “essentially a blend of dry dairy ingredients.”

“The use of M.P.C. is financially advantageous to defendants, as its addition increases the protein level of a product at a low cost, while not attributing additional flavor to the product,” the lawsuit said. “M.P.C. is often imported from countries with lower food standards than the United States. M.P.C. is less expensive than other forms of dairy proteins such as farm milk and nonfat dry milk.”

Responding to the allegations, General Mills said, “As a standing practice, we don’t comment on pending litigation. We stand behind our products, and we stand behind the accuracy of the labeling of those products.” The company is expected to respond to the lawsuit in court by July 16.

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