General Mills sues yogurt rival Chobani over ad claim

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An advertising claim about Greek yogurt has a Minnesota company on a legal odyssey to squelch the commercial.

Twin Cities-based General Mills is suing Chobani over an ad it says makes false and misleading statements about Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt, which is made by General Mills.

Specifically, the Chobani ad claims the Yoplait brand contains a preservative that's "used to kill bugs."

The Business Journal's article about the complaint includes a copy of the lawsuit.

Here's the Chobani ad:

Is it true?

The preservative Chobani refers to is potassium sorbate, which has been declared safe by the Food and Drug Administration. It inhibits the growth of mold and yeast, so farmers do put it on crops. But General Mills says it's not used to kill insects.

The Fooducate blog says potassium sorbate is found naturally in some berries, although it's a synthetic version that is mass produced. has more background on it.

Chobani's ad campaign includes a similar commercial that takes aim at Dannon for using an artificial sweetener in its yogurt.

Dannon takes exception to the ad's claim that "that stuff has chlorine added to it." NBC News reports the company said in a letter to Chobani last week it is ready to "pursue all available avenues" to force Chobani to pull the ad.

Chobani, however, says it's only telling the truth.

The Star Tribune reports Chobani's chief marketing and brand officer said in a statement "... I'm disappointed that Dannon and General Mills are focused on stopping people from having the facts about artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives."

In its lawsuit, General Mills wants Chobani to stop running the ad and pay damages.

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