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Must “Greek Yogurt” be from Greece?

It seems that some consumers don’t think Chobani Greek yogurt is sufficiently Greek.  Jacob Gershman reports on a class action lawsuit filed against Chobani, Inc. making that precise clam.

“Defendants purposefully market their Products as ‘Greek’ yogurt when there is nothing ‘Greek’ about the Products,” the complaint says. “None of the Products sold in the U.S. are made in Greece or made by Greek nationals even though Defendants market themselves as ‘America’s Top Greek Yogurt.’”

Chobani officials say the suit is without merit and that its central claim is the equivalent of complaining that Canadian bacon isn’t from Canada.

“Our fans also understand that, like English muffins and French fries, Greek yogurt is a product description about how we authentically make our yogurt and not about where we make our yogurt in Upstate New York and Idaho,” the company said in a statement Friday. “We market our products transparently with labeling that is clear, commonly understood and widely used and all of our labels comply with all laws and regulations.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Chobani exaggerates the healthiness of its Greek yogurt by highlighting that it is sweetened with evaporated cane juice.  Apparently this is misleading because consumers won’t realize this is a form of sugar.  A lawsuit making a similar claim was dismissed earlier this year.

Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in constitutional, administrative, and environmental law at the Case Western University School of Law, where he is the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation.



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