When Enforcement Profits the Government
There must be enforcement mechanisms behind just laws and regulations, of course, but I’d say that it’s healthy to be concerned about continued movement in this direction:
That sum [of $425,000] is Rhode Island’s share of $21 million that Dannon agreed to pay to satisfy allegations and demands for money damages by the attorneys general of 39 states, who challenged Dannon’s claims with the assistance of the Federal Trade Commission. It is the largest sum ever to be paid by a food manufacturer in a multistate settlement of its kind.
Dannon represented, for example, that Activia helped to regulate a person’s digestive system based largely on one ingredient, a bacterial strain that Dannon named Bifidus Regularis.
Dannon said that when one daily serving was consumed for two weeks, it would reduce the time that it would take for food to pass through the consumer’s digestive system. But a majority of studies showed that the improvement required the consumption of three daily servings for two weeks, according to the attorneys general.
So, it looks like Dannon exaggerated to play down the amount of yogurt that would have the effect claimed, but at a certain point, caveat emptor has to apply. It does not appear to be the case that eating too little yogurt on the advice of advertisements harmed anybody’s health, and frankly, consumers ought to be suspicious of all such declarations, in the first place.
Conspicuously — and confirming the sense that nobody was actually harmed — the money will go right into the state’s general fund, with some directed into the attorney general’s account.