A frozen yoghurt chain and its parent company have been fined $70,000 for selling fake yoghurt and misleading consumers about its health benefits.
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Judge David Sharp said he would have fined Yoghurt Story, which had 22 stores across the country, and Frozen Yoghurt $270,000. However, because both companies are in liquidation, the fine was reduced to $35,000 each.
The charges were brought by the Commerce Commission under the Fair Trading Act. They came after an investigation found the product could not be defined as yoghurt, which has to have at least a million colony-forming units of bacteria per gram.
Yoghurt Story also made misleading claims on its website, including that the product "increases your immune system" and lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Judge Sharp said the companies attempted to take advantage of consumer demand for healthier products.
“The defendants’ conduct was a cynical attempt to take advantage of consumers’ desire to make healthier food choices. The defendants themselves considered the product to be more akin to an ice cream product, yet they decided to call their stores ‘Yoghurt Story’ because it was more attractive to consumers than calling it Ice Cream Story,” he said.
Ten Yoghurt Story stores are still operating.