May 13th, 2011

Class actions mount up as Bayer gets slapped with complaint over probiotic claims

Nutra Ingredients - USA

The surge class action complaints against health claims on food, beverage and dietary supplements shows no sign of calming, as Bayer is targeted in a new class action lawsuit in California against claims made on some of its probiotic products.

On April 22, a consumer filed a class action lawsuit in California against Bayer HealthCare LLC accusing the company of false and deceptive advertising regarding benefits of its Phillips Probiotics Colon Health supplement purchased on April 7 for $15.99.

The complaint, which can be read here , states: “Bayer manufactures, markets and sells health products known as Phillips Probiotics Colon Health, Probiotics + Fiber and Probiotics Caps. Through an extensive and comprehensive nationwide marketing campaign, Bayer claims that the products help ‘support’ consumers’ health benefits that other products cannot.

“Bayer claims in its advertising that these exclusive health benefits result from the combination of strains of ‘probiotic’ bacteria that are unique to the products. Bayer’s representations are false, misleading and reasonably likely to deceive the public,” adds the complaint.

Bayer were unable to comment at the time of publishing.

Surging class actions?

Leading lawyers in the food, beverage and dietary supplements segment recently pointed to an upsurge in class actions. Commenting recently as General Mills lost its bid to derail a class action lawsuit over digestive health claims for Yo-Plus yogurts at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Seattle-based attorney Ken Odza, who heads up the food liability practice at law firm Stoel Rives, noted: “I think these kind of cases are going to explode”.

Marc Ullman, a partner at New York-based firm Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman LLP, added that it was “procedurally easier” to file such suits in certain states, he added. “California and New Jersey come to mind.”

High profile cases include Dannon regarding its probiotic yogurts Activia and DanActive, Wrigley for claims made about its Eclipse fresh breath gum, and General Mills for its Yo-Plus product.

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