Research Gone Wild: Yogurt Wars

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Sucralose’s safety is no longer up for debate.

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(Photo: iStockPhoto/Getty Images)

What Was Said

Earlier this year, the Greek yogurt giant Chobani launched an advertising campaign vilifying its competitor Dannon, implying that the brand’s Light & Fit Greek yogurt was full of “bad stuff” — meaning artificial ingredients. One ad criticized Dannon for using sucralose, an artificial sweetener that includes chlorine.

The Problem Is

This accusation isn’t false, but it misrepresents basic chemistry. The ad’s poolside location leaves the impression that the chlorine in sucralose is as potentially dangerous as the chlorine-based compound used to sterilize swimming pools. (Chlorine is harmless in many compounds.)

Chemistry Is Hard

Dannon led an injunction to stop the ads, but Chobani doubled down in court, suggesting that sucralose’s safety is still up for debate. Judge David N. Hurd was not convinced, ruling that the sweetener is “an unusually well-studied compound repeatedly determined to be safe for ordinary consumption.” The judge’s decision bars Chobani from making claims about the safety of sucralose in Dannon products in the future, but the company can continue to market its products in a way that implies natural ingredients are inherently better or healthier than artificial ones — a legally, but not scientifically, sound position.

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