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Don't Be Fooled: Not All Yogurts Are Created Equal

For centuries, yogurt has been considered a healthful food. Researchers around the world are studying the potential attributes of yogurt containing live and active cultures in such areas as fighting yeast infections, preventing gastrointestinal infections, boosting the body's immune system and preventing certain types of cancer.

But yogurt-lovers should take notice: there are products in the marketplace that take advantage of yogurt's healthful image, but that do not contain live and active cultures. These include yogurt-covered candies and pretzels, and yogurt-containing salad dressings.

To dispel consumer confusion about yogurt, the National Yogurt Association (NYA) developed the Live & Active Cultures seal to help consumers readily identify those yogurts containing significant levels of live and active cultures. The seal is a voluntary identification available to all manufacturers of refrigerated yogurt whose products contain at least 100 million (108) cultures per gram at the time of manufacture. The seal also is available to manufacturers of frozen yogurt products.

Since the seal program is voluntary, some yogurt products may contain live cultures but not carry the Live & Active Cultures seal. Consumers should check the label for indications that the yogurt contains live cultures. But without the seal, there is no unbiased validation of the level of live cultures present in the product.

The National Yogurt Association is the national, non-profit trade organization representing the manufacturers and marketers of live and active culture yogurt products, as well as suppliers to the industry. Its purpose is to sponsor health and medical research for yogurt with live and active cultures and serve as an information source to the trade and the general public.