The health claims for Dannon Acivia Yogurt have been watered down recently following settlement of a class action lawsuit against Dannon filed in January 2008, which, according to Reuters:
settlement of the case, they agreed to make changes to the labeling and advertising that increase the visibility of the scientific names of the “probiotic” cultures in the yogurts and clarify the nature of the benefit, to more accurately reflect the need for longer term use before any benefit is seen.
That’s because the “unique” probiotic Bifidus ActiRegularis is actually a trademarked name for Bifidobacterium animalisDN-173 010, “a useful strain of Bifidobacteria,” which, according to www.probiotics-lovethatbug.com “shortens the colonic transit time in healthy women.”
In fact, as they point out, the lawsuit is “a war of words – not an indictment against probiotics.”
So whilst the marketing practices of Dannon may have been dubious, the validity of the product as one which “interacts with the digest tract” and “may speed sluggish digestive transit” remains. If you are a fan of Activia, and if it’s working for you, the fact remains it’s a healthy product. Sure, it’s over priced and there are better alternatives on the market, but it does have a thick creamy taste, and is widely available at short notice, making it a convenient snack and a healthier option than other high sugar yogurts with no live cultures.
Even so, it’s not that simple. While probiotics as a group may have impeccable scientific credentials, it’s lactobacilli or acidophillus strains that are generally considered the most useful, and if you want an effective, cheap dose, you would be better served by a product like Flora Magic, a blend of multiple bebeficial bacteria including Lactobacillus Bifidus, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, DDS-1 Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Casei, Bacillus Subtilus, Enterococcus Faecium together with Vegetable Enzymes.
These products are available in tablet form and provide much higher doses of multiple beneficial bacteria, and as such are more likely to provide insurance against digestive problems and keep your gut healthy.
And if you really want the nutritional benefit of a yogurt, complete with “friendly bacteria,” try making your own live yogurt from a mix with probiotics included. The taste is much milder, and you can be sure of the viability of the cultures.
You can also control the added sugars, colors and flavorings, thereby sidestepping the glucose-fructose, carmine (crushed red beetle) colorings, and modified corn starch added to various flavors of Activia yogurt.
Bottom line? Activia is a reasonably healthy yogurt with added live cultures. It’s well marketed, allowing Dannon to charge more than other manufacturers charge for similar products. But if you want real health benefits, there are better options available.