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Actimel Logo.png
TypeProbiotic dairy
Region of originWorldwide
Related productsActivia

Actimel (known as DanActive in the United States and Canada) is a 'probiotic' yogurt-type drink produced by the French company Danone.

Actimel earned over €1.4 billion (US$1.8 billion) in retail sales in 2006.[1]


Actimel was invented in the 1980s when the first steps to developing a fermented milk based on Lactobacillus casei Danone were taken.

But it wasn’t until 1994 when it was commercially-launched in Belgium. The word Actimel is derived from the Flemish “Active melk” which translates simply as Active Milk.

Scientific basis[edit]

Claimed benefits range from reducing the incidence of diarrhea[2][3][4] and rhinitis reduction for young children,[5] to improvement of the immune function in adults[6] and seniors [7][8] and reduction of duration of winter infections for elderly.[9]

A 2007 study published by the British Medical Journal[10] suggests that the product could help avoid antibiotic–associated diarrhoea and limit Clostridium difficile colitis infections in elderly patients.

Debates surrounding health claims on probiotic foods[edit]

On 23 January 2008, a proposed class action was filed in California, accusing Danone Co. Inc. of false advertising in their marketing of yogurt containing probiotic bacteria (Danactive & Activia), alleging that the claimed health benefits have never been proven.[11] The company has denied this accusation.[12]

Foodwatch claims that Danone "makes a mountain out of a molehill" in suggesting that Actimel protects from cold and boosts health. Foodwatch believes that the company sells a commodity product as a niche product using branding.[13]

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is an independent regulator for advertisements, sales promotion and direct marketing in the UK. According to Spiegel Online one TV spot from Actimel was blocked by the ASA in 2006 and one in 2008.[14] In the first case the ASA upheld a complaint that the advert misleadingly implied that children given Actimel would be prevented from catching bacterial infections.[15] Meanwhile in the second case complaints about the use of the phrase "Actimel is scientifically proven and you can see that proof for yourself on our website" were upheld as only summaries of, or references to, these studies were present on the website and the full content was not available.[16] A TV advert that stated that Actimel was "scientifically-proven to help support your kids' defences" was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.[17]

Alexa Meyer, from the Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Vienna, Austria, comparing probiotic drinks and normal yogurt, found no significant difference in the effect of Actimel and normal yogurt with living bacteria. The nutritional researcher recommends getting enough sleep, washing hands often and eating a daily bowl of yogurt. She says this would activate more active germ-fighting white blood cells, enhancing the immune system, probably due to the presence of Lactobacillus bulgaricus, from any normal yogurt, which is half the price of Actimel.[18]

The equivalence of yogurts is supported by Berthold Koletzko from the University of Munich, Metabolic Diseases and Nutrition, Munich, Germany in case of diarrhoea advises parents to give their children yogurt with living bacteria. It does not necessarily need to be Actimel, but may also be other yogurts. A measurable health benefit linked to the presence of live Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii sp. Bulgaricus in yogurt was reported by Koletzko and colleagues in 2005. In this review Koletzko and colleagues say that it was clearly demonstrated that yogurt containing viable bacteria improves lactose digestion and eliminates symptoms of lactose intolerance, and clearly fulfill the current concept of probiotics.[19]

The net "all-cause" effects of yogurts have also been questioned; its 6 September 2009 issue, Nature featured an article by Didier Raoult who claimed that "probiotic-enriched" yogurt beverages may have contributed to the increase in obesity over the past 20 years.[20]

Within the 27 countries of the European Union, a new health claims regulation was put in place by the European Commission as of 1 July 2007. In Canada, a similar regulation is currently in the works at Health Canada.[21]


  1. ^ "Danone Actimel: Innovation Builds a Probiotic Mega-Brand". 1 May 2007. Archived from the original on 5 March 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
  2. ^ Pedone CA, Arnaud CC, Postaire ER, Bouley CF, Reinert P (November 2000). "Multicentric study of the effect of milk fermented by Lactobacillus casei on the incidence of diarrhoea". Int J Clin Pract. 54 (9): 568–71. PMID 11220983.
  3. ^ Pedone CA, Bernabeu AO, Postaire ER, Bouley CF, Reinert P (April–May 1999). "The effect of supplementation with milk fermented by Lactobacillus casei (strain DN-114 001) on acute diarrhoea in children attending day care centres". Int J Clin Pract. 53 (3): 568–71. PMID 10665128.
  4. ^ Agarwal KN, Bhasin SK (December 2002). "Feasibility studies to control acute diarrhoea in children by feeding fermented milk preparations Actimel and Indian Dahi". Eur J Clin Nutr. 56 (4): 56–9. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601664. PMID 12556949.
  5. ^ Giovannini M, Agostoni C, Riva E, Salvini F, Ruscitto A, Zuccotti GV, Radaelli G, Felicita Study Group (August 2007). "A randomized prospective double blind controlled trial on effects of long-term consumption of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei in pre-school children with allergic asthma and/or rhinitis". Pediatr Res. 62 (2): 215–20. doi:10.1203/PDR.0b013e3180a76d94. PMID 17597643.
  6. ^ Marcos A, Wärnberg J, Nova E, Gómez S, Alvarez A, Alvarez R, Mateos JA, Cobo JM (December 2004). "The effect of milk fermented by yogurt cultures plus Lactobacillus casei DN-114001 on the immune response of subjects under academic examination stress". Eur J Nutr. 43 (6): 381–9. doi:10.1007/s00394-004-0517-8. PMID 15309418. S2CID 42278966.
  7. ^ Parra MD, Martínez de Morentin BE, Cobo JM, Mateos A, Martínez JA (June 2004). "Daily ingestion of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei DN114001 improves innate-defense capacity in healthy middle-aged people". J Physiol Biochem. 60 (2): 85–91. doi:10.1007/BF03168444. PMID 15457926. S2CID 22526012.
  8. ^ Parra MD, Martínez de Morentin BE, Cobo JM, Mateos A, Martínez JA (2004). "Monocyte function in healthy middle-aged people receiving fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei". J Nutr Health Aging. 8 (4): 208–11. PMID 15316583.
  9. ^ Turchet P, Laurenzano M, Auboiron S, Antoine JM (2003). "Effect of fermented milk containing the probiotic Lactobacillus casei DN-114001 on winter infections in free-living elderly subjects: a randomised, controlled pilot study". J Nutr Health Aging. 7 (2): 75–7. PMID 12679825.
  10. ^ Use of probiotic Lactobacillus preparation to prevent diarrhoea associated with antibiotics: randomised double blind placebo controlled trial - Hickson et al., 10.1136/bmj.39231.599815.55 - BMJ
  11. ^ "Dannon sued over probiotic yogurt claims". 24 January 2008. Archived from the original on 28 January 2008. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
  12. ^ "Dannon Refutes Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Misleading Claims". Reuters. 24 January 2008.
  13. ^ "Abgespeist: Actimel von Danone. Activer Etikettenschwindel". Foodwatch (in German). Archived from the original on 27 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  14. ^ Amann, Susanne: Marketing-Erfolg. Mit Joghurt Millionen scheffeln. Spiegel Online 22.12.2008,1518,druck-597184,00.html
  15. ^ ASA adjudication 1 November 2006 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ ASA adjudication 12 March 2008 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ BBC 'Healthy' yogurt advert banned 13 October 2009
  18. ^ Meyer, AL; Micksche, M; Herbacek, I; Elmadfa, I (2006). "Daily intake of probiotic as well as conventional yogurt has a stimulating effect on cellular immunity in young healthy women". Ann Nutr Metab. 50 (3): 282–9. doi:10.1159/000091687. PMID 16508257. S2CID 2640406.
  19. ^ Guarner, F.; Perdigon, G.; Corthier, G.; Salminen, S.; Koletzko, B.; Morelli, L. (June 2005). "Should yoghurt cultures be considered probiotic?". Br J Nutr. 93 (6): 783–6. doi:10.1079/bjn20051428. PMID 16022746.
  20. ^ Raoult, Didier (1 May 2010). "Probiotics and obesity: a link?". Nature Reviews Microbiology. 7 (9): 616. doi:10.1038/nrmicro2209. PMID 21548178.
  21. ^ Managing Health Claims for Foods in Canada: Towards a Modernized Framework Archived 19 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine

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