Attorneys for yogurt rivals Chobani and Dannon are sparring over a new advertising campaign for a low-calorie line of Greek yogurt.
Chobani, a New York company that boomed as consumers embraced thicker Greek yogurt in recent years, began running ads this month for its Simply 100 variety of yogurt.
One of Chobani's TV ads alleges that Dannon uses sucralose as an artificial sweetener its Light & Fit Greek yogurt.
"That stuff has chlorine added to it," an announcer says in the ad before calling Simply 100 "the only 100-calorie light yogurt sweetened naturally."
Dannon officials responded that sucralose is included in many low-calorie foods and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. An attorney for the company sent Chobani a cease-and-desist letter alleging that the ad was unlawfully misleading.
Chobani fired back with a filing that asked a New York federal court to clear the ad campaign.
"Consumers have the right to know what's in their cup," Chobani marketing chief Peter McGuinness said in a statement. "This campaign is fundamentally about choice — the choice between natural ingredients versus artificial ingredients."
Chobani's new ads also allege that Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt contains "preservatives like potassium sorbate" that "is used to kill bugs."
Yoplait owner General Mills also characterized the ad as "misleading" and defended its use of the salt, which prevents mold and yeast growth.
"We don’t think consumers appreciate that kind of approach,” General Mills spokesman Mike Siemienas wrote in an email to The New York Times.