Are Ingredients in Your Favorite Yogurt Used in Swimming Pools and Pesticides?

Ask health magazine writers and nutritionists for a list of their favorite healthy snacks and many will probably tout the benefits of Greek yogurt. The tangy treat has exploded in popularity and is now a $1.5 billion business in the U.S. But as more yogurt companies add Greek options to their product lines, competition for consumers is intensifying.

How intense? Chobani, currently the most popular Greek yogurt brand, launched an ad campaign touting its “all-natural” ingredients and slamming its rivals Yoplait and Dannon for using FDA-approved artificial sweeteners.

Chobani takes a page out of the Food Babe’s playbook by namechecking hard-to-pronounce ingredients and then naming scary other uses for those substances.

One ad features a woman in front of a swimming pool tossing her container of Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt into a towel bin after the announcer says, “Sucralose? Why? That stuff has chlorine added to it.”  The obvious implication is that the same ingredient in your yogurt is also used in swimming pools as a disinfectant. Yet you won’t actually find swimming pool chlorine in yogurt. The FDA confirms sucralose—a widely popular sweetener—is safe in foods.

Another ad takes on Yoplait’s use of potassium sorbate, featuring a woman again hurling out her container of yogurt after the voiceover says “Potassium sorbate? Really? That stuff is used to kill bugs.”

Potassium sorbate is generally produced synthetically, but it’s a salt product of sorbic acid, which occurs naturally in some berries. It’s commonly used as a preservative to prevent molding (and who wants moldy food?).

Potassium sorbate is an ingredient in some bug killer products, but in vastly different doses. In high doses, many substances can be deadly, including “all-natural” substances like arsenic, cyanide, and even water! Check out our series of videos on the “Dose Makes the Poison” here.

Yoplait and Dannon are taking Chobani to court over the misleading claims, but so far Chobani isn’t backing down. For more on why “natural doesn’t always mean healthy,” check out Dr. Joseph Perrone’s recent op-ed here.