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Dannon commits to reducing sugar, fat in yogurt by 2016

The yogurt maker also pledges improvement in ‘nutrient density’ and to invest in nutrition education.

At today’s Building a Healthier Future summit in Washington, D.C. by The Partnership for a Healthier America, The Dannon Co. announced a four-part commitment to:
1. Improve the nutrient density of its products
2. Reduce total sugars
3. Reduce fat
4. Invest in nutrition education and research focused on healthy eating habits.

Dannon said the goals are based on guidance from the Institute of Medicine and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends that Americans consume more nutrient-dense foods, like yogurt. Nutrient-dense foods are those that provide more vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D and potassium, and less fat, sugar and salt.

Dannon plans to achieve its goals by 2016 through a combination of innovations and reformulating existing products. Last year, the yogurt maker reformulated its best-selling children's product, Danimals smoothies, and reduced sugar by 25%. Dannon's new Greek yogurt product for children, called Danimals SuperStars, already meets the criteria announced today.

Specifically, The Dannon Co. pledged to:
1. Improve the nutrient density by 10% of the company’s product portfolio overall by increasing nutrients that Americans are encouraged to consume, like Vitamin D, and decreasing total sugar and fat.
2. Reduce the amount of total sugar to 23 grams or less per 6-ounce serving in all of its products for children and 70% of the company's products overall.
3. Reduce the amount of fat in its line-up so that 75% of products will be low-fat or fat-free.
4. Invest $3 million in nutrition education and research focused on healthy eating habits.

A Dannon spokesman would not elaborate on which nutrients (other than Vitamin) would be increased, citing competitive reasons. Nor would he comment in advance of the products’ release on how the company would achieve the sugar reduction.

As to point 3, Michael J. Neuwirth, the company’s senior director of public relations, told Dairy Foods that currently about 68% of the company’s products “are compliant and our commitment is that by June 2016, 75% of the volume of products covered by the commitment will be ‘fat free’ or ‘low in fat.’”

Neuwirth said Dannon’s $3 million investment will help support the development of education programs for health care providers, such as WIC (Women Infant Children) nutrition counselors.

“Additionally, these funds may support research grants and scientific partnerships with U.S. universities and organizations dedicated to nutrition research, and outreach to diverse populations. We collaborate with foundations, academic institutions and individual researchers in many ways to support nutrition and health. One example of this is recently we established a grant for nutrition education with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation,” he said.

According to Dannon, most yogurts are already nutrient-dense and provide three of the four nutrients of public health concern most lacking in American diets as identified by the 2010 DGA: calcium, potassium and Vitamin D.

Dannon is a subsidiary of the French multinational company Danone. Headquartered in White Plains, N.Y., The Dannon Co. has plants in Minster, Ohio, Fort Worth, Texas, West Jordan, Utah, and Portland, Ore.

Watch an interview with Dannon President and CEO Mariano Lozano.

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