Kefir Does Not Live Up to Its Claims, Class Says

     CHICAGO (CN) – A class action claims that Lifeway Kefir, a probiotic yogurt-like beverage, contains little to none of the probiotic microorganisms that Lifeway boasts are “clinically proven” to improve digestive health.
     Lifeway produces and sells kefir, a cultured probiotic beverage similar to drinkable yoghurt, sometimes called the “champagne of dairy.” All Lifeway products contain seven to ten billion culture forming units of 10 strains of bacteria, plus ProBoost, “our exclusive pair of clinically proven probiotics to balance your body’s ecosystem, [and] support digestive health and immunity,” according to the company’s website.
     But Scott Keatley and Joseph Villari, who filed a class action against Lifeway Foods Inc. in the Northern District of Illinois, dispute the company’s claims about the health benefits of its kefir.
     “Lifeway claims that its products containing ProBoost, including but not limited to Lifeway’s ‘Original Kefir,’ ‘BioKefir,’ ‘Low Fat Kefir’ and ‘Nonfat Kefir,’ (collectively, ‘ProBoost Products’) will ‘enhance the immune system’ and ‘balance digestive health.’ Specifically, Lifeway claims its ProBoost products will provide clinically proven therapeutic benefits for various health conditions, including antibiotic diarrhea, autoimmune disorders, bad breath, celiac disease, Crohn’s and colitis, high cholesterol, immune deficiency, infantile colic, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, seasonal allergies, traveler’s diarrhea and yeast infections.
     “In fact, Lifeway’s ProBoost products are not clinically proven to be effective for the benefits Lifeway represents in its media and advertising of the ProBoost products. Moreover, the two strains Lifeway touts in its ProBoost products, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis HN019, which must be at certain dosage levels to provide any claimed health enhancing benefits, are not even in the ProBoost Products,” the plaintiffs claim.
     They say that “testing shows that Lifeway’s ProBoost products contain little to no Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis HN019.”
     The complaint continues: “Nonetheless, as a result of Lifeway’s deceptive advertising campaign, plaintiffs and other customers are induced into buying the ProBoost products because of the misrepresentations. Plaintiffs would not have purchased the ProBoost products had they known the truth regarding the ProBoost products and the ProBoost products did not have the quality, health benefits or value as promised.”
     The class seeks restitution and punitive damages for violation of the Magnuson-Moss Act, unjust enrichment, breach of warranty, misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, and fraud.
     It is represented by Mark Belongia of Belongia Law.

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