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General Mills’ Greek yogurt is ‘not yogurt at all’, lawsuit claims

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 12-Jun-2012

A class action lawsuit filed in California claims that General Mills’ Yoplait-brand fat-free Greek yogurt is misbranded because it contains milk protein concentrate (MPC), which is not listed as a permitted yogurt ingredient under FDA regulation.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules do allow for the addition of optional dairy ingredients, including concentrated skim milk and non-fat dry milk among others, as well as the addition of other ingredients, including sweeteners, vitamins, colors, flavors and stabilizers. But MPC is not listed.

“Yoplait Greek is neither authentic Greek yogurt, nor yogurt at all,” the court document reads. “Yoplait Greek does not comply with the standard of identity of yogurt. Indeed, Yoplait Greek contains Milk Protein Concentrate (“MPC”) which is not among the permissible ingredients of yogurt, non-fat yogurt, and low-fat yogurt (collectively “yogurt”) as set forth under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.”

The plaintiffs claim that they were misled by General Mills’ representation of the Yoplait product as Greek yogurt, considering that it is not strained to create a thicker product, but rather is thickened using MPC along with pectin, gelatin, and locust bean gum. They claim they paid a premium for the Yoplait Greek brand of yogurt and are seeking damages from General Mills.

MPC is a very high protein dry milk product, which has been touted for use in Greek-style products to increase their protein content and provide a thick, creamy texture without the need for expensive straining. New Zealand is the top supplier of MPC to the United States.

A General Mills spokesperson told FoodNavigator-USA that the company does not comment on pending litigation.

"We stand behind our products, and we stand behind the accuracy of the labeling of those products," she said.

General Mills is expected to respond to the complaint in court on July 16.

The class action complaint is available online here .

No one from the FDA responded to a request for comment prior to publication.

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