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Should We Sue Chobani?

I love me some Greek Yogurt. If this is news to you, you probably haven't been reading all that long. And after trying Chobani for the first time, I was sold. I don't eat Chobani because it's the healthiest food around (although it's higher in protein than traditional yogurt), but because I like the taste.

Now, full disclaimer here. Chobani has been good to me. They have sent me yogurt to review in the past, and I even went to the Chomobile when it was at a race expo in Atlanta. Lest I am labeled as a "Chobani-ho" (do you guys think that will catch on?), I wanted to share an interesting article that Tim forwarded to me earlier today.




Read it if you're so inclined, but the premise is that an attorney who once focused on bringing down the tobacco industry is now focusing on unhealthy foods. The stock photo at the top of the article was a bowl of potato chips - pretty much standard "junk food", in my opinion. But as I read on, I realized one of the foods most targeted as being "misleading" and full of "hidden sugars" was...Chobani Greek yogurt.

I realized pretty quickly that they weren't specifically talking about the plain yogurts, but instead about my favorites like pineapple and black cherry. Chobani lists "evaporated cane juice" as an ingredient, and this particular attorney believes that that is misleading terminology and should be called, straight-up, SUGAR instead.

Healthy snack or mislabeled junk food?
 So it looks like there are two issues at play here.
1) Is evaporated cane juice the same thing as sugar?
AND
2) Should companies need to follow clearer labeling instructions?

I did a little research and it looks like: evaporated cane juice, since it less processed than refined sugar, has slightly more riboflavin. That's it. Calories, etc. are the same. So there's the first question answered.

As far as companies being misleading by including evaporated cane juice on their labels, I'm not convinced it's a big deal. People who are interested in reading labels and eating more natural foods will probably already know about differences and similarities between evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, sugar and high fructose corn syrup. And really, are kids in America getting obese because they're eating too much fruit-flavored Greek yogurt?

Do you prefer/avoid foods that contain certain types of sweeteners? Or are you on the sugar-free bandwagon?
I typically try to avoid high-fructose corn syrup. And I admit I get swayed into thinking foods are "better" or "natural" when the ingredients say evaporated cane juice or brown rice syrup instead of SUGAR, which is probably a mistake on my part.

Do you think that lawsuits against certain foods, labeling practices and the like are ever justified?
I'm torn on this one. I think a lot of good can come from holding companies accountable for what they are selling and how they are marketing it. BUT...I'm not entirely convinced that some sweetened, high-protein, low-fat yogurt is the problem here.
 

Comments

  1. I thought people knew evaporated cane juice = sugar. Why are people so dumb? "Oh, this hot coffee BURNED me! I will sue!"

    All flavored yogurt has sugar...either added or from fruit. Sugar is what makes things taste good. Sugar or salt. Or both. Mmmm salty sugar.

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    1. What Kara said. I totally eat Cho when I'm desperate for a treat because that's what it is. Tastes too good to be healthy.

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    2. also agree....are these people idiots??? it says SUGAR in grams on the label!!!!

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    3. Always with the coffee is hot comments. Why don't you people google Stella Liebeck burns and then tell me how she was supposed to know that machine was broken making her coffee hotter than her engine coolant! Turn off safe search btw because the pictures are graphic. You don't get skin grafts when coffee is heated properly. All she asked was that McD pay her medical bills. The millions they were hit with were punitive damages, look up what that means because Stella didn't see a dime of that.

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  2. I still love me some CHO, I really don't care as long as I don't eat it all day every day!

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  3. Kara forgot she's smarter than most people, I didn't know that, but I know how to compare numbers, so when plain greek yogurt has like 6g of sugar and blueberry has like 20 (totally just made those numbers up) I get the picture. I'm cheap/a food snob so I just buy giant containers of plain Kirkland farms greek yogurt and put in fresh or frozen fruit. Then I follow it up with tons of ice cream or frosting or other pure sugar filled dessert. I got distracted, what were we talking about?

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  4. Ya know, I've never liked Chobani and do not get the obsession with Chobani or any greek yogurt, flavored or not. Just give me some regular ole vanilla yogurt and I'll add my own things thank you very much.

    Also, I've been hearing for a while that Cho is not really all that 'healthy' because it's packed with sugar. And I'd assume evaporated cane juice is sugar because "cane" makes me think "sugar cane".

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  5. I so do not think this is a big deal! There was some legal activity surrounding my favorite yoplait greek yogurt because it's not ACTUALLY greek or something, but like you said, is that really what's making America obese? No. I would like foods to be more whole and better for us in general, but if I was SUPER committed to that idea, I would grow my own food I guess? Cool post, it got me thinking!

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  6. I'm not sure I feel a lawsuit is necessary, but I have never felt that the sweetened flavored yogurts (Chobani and others) are particularly healthy. Of course plain yogurt with fresh fruit has about the same number of calories (and who knows, maybe comparable amounts of sugars from the fruit), but it is much more filling and satisfying and nutritious than sweetened yogurt. I don't think the name for the sugar matters, though, because the nutrition labels indicate how many grams of sugar are in the product regardless of their source.

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  7. I have no opinion on the issue other than to say I LOVE Chobani yogurt and I cannot believe it is taking them so long to make a move into Western Canada! Cho-ho.. cute.

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  8. I avoid sweetners...I found they affect my blood sugar. I stick to my Stevia since it is all natural. Dairy, sweets, you name it messes me up.

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  9. i actually always “make my own flavors” and use honey to sweeten the plain with fresh fruit because i already read the label and how many sugars were in the “fun” flavors bothered me. i try to limit the bad foods (excess sugar, carbs, etc) that i buy for my house and tend to splurge when I am out. I do think that something needs to be done about the labeling and the honesty of foods that are good/good for you. too many americans see “greek yogurt” and think healthy. kinda like the new greek yogurt ice cream. go read the label-terrible for you.

    my soapbox on overweight americans and misleading the dieters is way too long of a blog comment. i’ll stop at that. :)

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  10. if something is sweet its got to have some type of sweetner in it (sugar or artificial- period) If something says sugar free that means its got an artificial sweetner in it. I'll take 'evaporated cane juice' and 'brown rice syrup' over asparatame, splenda, or acesulfame potassium any day of the week. My actual go to is stevia (liquid stevia is AMAZING for coffee / tea)

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  11. If people were just sensible consumers this wouldn't have to be an issue. Too bad most people are dumb.

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  12. I like Chobani. I usually eat it as desert, because DUH it has sugar in it and it's sweet and satisfying. I could have an ice cream instead, but I like my Chobani dessert. I was never under the impression that there was NOT sugar in it. Read the label people! And then eat it anyway!

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  13. The way the body processes sugar and evaporated cane juice is actually different from how it processes brown rice syrup. BRS is much easier for the body to handle.

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  14. I'm dairy-free & [refined] sugar-free, but I still absolutely LOVE Chobani. It’s too bad they use evaporated cane juice – I actually didn’t know that. I will say though, from personal experience the people behind CHO are awesome.

    To answer your question though: YES! I consciously go out of my way to avoid products containing sugars, and when I "cheat" even then I refrain from certain types of sweeteners.

    When I read ingredients on labels, the first thing I look for are words that don't belong there, and in this case anything ending in 'ose, such as sucrose. My sweet exceptions are typically: raw unprocessed honey, coconut palm sugar, black strap molasses, and stevia all in moderation. I’ve cut sugar(s) out of my intake routine for so long now that I don’t crave or add even the abovementioned. In fact, my palate is so clean; a fresh apple is perfectly sweet enough for me:)

    I think it’s awesome you brought up the sugar topic – it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile now, and was just doing some research on the protein company, “Plant Fusion” so I have a bunch of sugar info tabs open right now!

    Anyway, I reached out to them (Plant Fusion) on their facebook page last night asking about their use of monosaccharide. I wanted to know if it was pure, derived from plants/fruits, or if their fructose is derived from sugar cane, sugar beets or God forbid, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). They promptly responded explaining they use crystalline fructose derived from Non-GMO corn & fruit. Which is “good” because pure crystalline fructose comes from two sources: corn or sucrose (table sugar), thus table sugar is not used in their product.

    One thing I would stress for people who are concerned about certain ingredients is to put the product back on the shelf if you’re unsure or have to ask. Research, and then make an educated decision – your body will thank you.

    Sorry for the long comment!

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  15. Meh, I'm not concerned about what kind of sugar is in it. If it's got a fair amount of protein and isn't packed with calories, I'm for it! Within reason, of course. And hey, plain old sugar is better than all those whacked-out crazy sugars out there, right?

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  16. Do I think Chobani is the cause of the obesity problem? No.

    But I am tired of the marketing campaigns that make products seem healthy when they are not. Chobani is part of that. ECJ IS SUGAR. It is. Similarly, Vitamin Water is sugar water. It has no redeeming value. It's just so dirty and underhanded.

    But the flip side is that people need to be responsible for themselves. If people are not interested in knowing what constitutes sugar - that is their problem. I do the work and the research for myself. But what this leads to is a longer debate about universal health care and how now we're all responsible for people's bad health-related decisions (but I digress).

    I do try to avoid sugar, especially when I'm cleaning up my eating. That's usually the first thing to go.

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  17. I'm not terribly concerned about the sugar content in Chobani. I mean, I can read nutrition labels, so I know what I'm getting into. It still has the grams of sugar listed even if it's "masked" in the ingredients list. Besides, I don't really think it's people binging on greek yogurt that is the problem with America's weight issues.

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  18. I am not obsessed with a little sugar in products because I eat healthy pretty much everything else, but when it's masked that upsets me because it is misleading.

    But lawsuits of food brands linking them to obesity drive me crazy like nails on a chalkboard. Bottom line is that aside from those who may have a medical condition that causes them to gain weight, it is ALL about personal responsibility and choices. I always look at obese people, kids included (that one REALLY breaks my heart) and I always want to go and ask them: how did you do this to yourself? Because obesity doesn't happen overnight. People that put COMPLETE responsibility on the food companies are just giving obese people as cop out on taking their own responsibility. Ok, sorry but I am very passionate about this subject.

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  19. I agree with most other people, you can still see the sugar content on the label. And, really, how else other than sugar would my beloved Blood Orange Chobani taste so good!

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  20. I love the fruity flavored greek yogurts. I'm just glad they're not pumped full of aspartame and other artificial junk - like most other light yogurts. I've been avoiding that at all cost and going with products containing stevia or good ole' sugar.

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  21. Hmmm this is a good question. I would in say in general I just want products with ingredients I understand and then the label hardly matters because I know what it all is!

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  22. I don't go out of my way to avoid sweeteners, but since I make 90% of my food from scratch, I have a good amount of control over what goes in. For instance, my bread never contains added sugar with the exception of my oatmeal molasses bread. As for Chobani, yes they do contain a large helping of sugar, but that sugar is paired with protein and calcium as opposed to just more sugar which, in my mind, gives it some added health benefit.

    As for labeling, oh yes do I think companies should be held accountable to label things as they actually are. Yes an informed consumer can spot HFCS, ECS, BRS, Stevia, Aspartame, etc as sweeteners, but how many of us recognize sorbitol or xylitol as sweeteners? Also, sugar additives aside, there's the can of worms that is GMO foods that also are not required to be labeled. A trip to the grocery store shouldn't require an entire dictionary of food additive definitions, in my opinion.

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  23. I think the nutrition label would still show grams of sugar. I think you're right people who care already know but maybe they figure people who don't care are the ones that need the most hand holding. I like when restaurants provide nutritional info but it's still up to you to look at the nutrition facts and you can't sue someone over your own choices.

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  24. If you are trying to solve the world's nutrition problems with label regulations, I think you're right.. Chobani is not the issue.. but having a reason (diabetes, celiac disease, food allergies even) to NEED to see ingredients labeled clearly and correctly, I do wish for more strict regulations holding company's to an honest list... even then, though, I have problems putting all the blame on a company or even the regulations and not the individual responsible for taking care of themselves. If they are being lied to, not good. If they are just not reading thoroughly, no need to point fingers.

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  25. Hey, Vanessa! We totally hear that evaporated cane juice may not be an obvious sugar to all, and we're looking at how we can make this more clear. We've built our business on honesty and transparency- listening to our consumers is #1. We do think it's important to note there is no sugar added to our yogurt, just the fruit on the bottom of our fruit flavors. Our tangy, creamy yogurt is simply authentic strained milk and cultures!

    Hope you're having a great week!

    Amy
    @Chobani

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  26. I have heard that the "fruit on the bottom" or flavored greek yogurts have more sugar but they taste so much better than plan so I sacrifice anyways! lol

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  27. Most flavored yogurts have about 20ish grams of sugar per serving. Your body doesn't distinguish between types of sugar! So I suppose in a way Mr. Lawyer is partially right, but I don't think it's fair to single out greek yogurt or Chobani specifically because of how they label it. If someone has a diet restriction that prevents them from eating 'evaporated cane juice' or sugar at all, I think they would be completely aware of the fact that the words 'cane' and 'juice' are also synonymous for SUGAR.

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  28. Kinda cool that Chobani left you a comment above. You have their ear. I started eating yogurt back in November. I don't enjoy Greek yogurt as much as other yogurt, but I have found a few brands and flavors that I'll eat regularly.

    Every tried Stevia sweetner? Supposed to be all natural with no calories and 200 times sweeter than sugar.

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    Replies
    1. I've used stevia to sweeten plain chobani :) and then I add my own fruit! Chobani is awesome and plays an active role on the web.....they would always comment on anyone's post that mentions them as their PR people, told me they are constantly searching for "Chobani" online :) smart people

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  29. We want to believe it's healthy, and Chobani wants to help us.
    In my opinion, not their fault.

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  30. I already knew it was sugar. I guess I'm surprised how clueless some shoppers are.

    For the record, I'm glad it is sugar and not artificial sweentener, that stuff is NASTY.

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  31. I tend to avoid artificial sweeteners and hfcs when possible. I actually prefer Chobani's use of "evaporated cane juice" over splenda or stevia. I don't really think of Chobani as misleading people into thinking it's healthier than it is. If you are considering a fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, Chobani is better than non-greek yogurt. It's got about 14g of protein and as a morning snack or part of lunch that will keep me full for a long time. You can CLEARLY see each fruit cup contains about 20g of sugar so if you want less sugar you can opt for plain. If I have a pineapple chobani, I'll just pack one less fruit with my lunch and one more veggie instead. Suing Chobani is ridiculous. The information is right there; consumers need to be responsible too.

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  32. I have only eaten the fruit chobani flavours when they have been given to me - otherwise it's plain greek for me. I wasn't fooled into think Chobani was healthy, nor did I think evaporated cane juice wasn't sugar when the labeling CLEARLY shows how many grams of sugar are in each cup. I don't know....I think people need to stop complaining about what they're eating and research it themselves. The only labeling I hate is "HEALTHY" as healthy is so subjective and in truth if man had a hand in making it, it's probably not ;)

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  33. I noticed the high sugar level yesterday at the store. I opted for Fage yogurt instead...so much healthier! I don't see how it was hidden though, I read it right on the label. Unless of course they're just now adding it? Funny you should mention this.

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  34. One thing for sure. it is that it is part of their business misleading information because they should have information at least online for those that the are looking more into the things that they eat.

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  35. Chobani Joghurt, with GMO-"Terminator" Seed?!!!

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  36. ECJ is certainly a type of sugar, even if it's not quite as processed as white sugar. The labeling IS a big deal, because most people are not smart enough to keep track of all the deceptive marketing. And yes -- It IS deceptive for Chobani to say (as they do) that their yogurt has no "added sugar" and even brazenly comment so on this page saying the same thing. When a significant number of calories come from an added sugar (even if not "white sugar"), it is deceptive. To say it comes from the fruit is nearly an outright lie: it may come from the added sugar that is mixed into the fruit puree and then added to the yogurt, but that is still "added sugar." I mean, come on, the yogurt has more sugar per ounce than a can of Coke.

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