Since 1978, when they first appeared on grocery store shelves, General Mills' Yoplait yogurt containers have been killing wildlife, perhaps thousands of animals each year.
Tempted by the sweet smell, animals stick their heads inside the conical-shaped containers to lick the bottom, and they get stuck.
It's not so much the "vercon" shape of the cup, but the thin lip, or flange, at the top.
The design of the cup allows an animal to force its head past the flexible rim, but when it tries to back out, the flange catches on the animal's hide, the back of its skull, or cheekbones.
Deprived of fresh air, unable to see, unable to eat or drink, these animals suffer and die if not rescued in time.
This is no news to General Mills.
In August 1998, under pressure from animal activists, General Mills added this to the label: Protect Wildlife Crush CupBefore Disposal, placing responsibility for their hazardous packaging onto the consumer.
General Mills refused, however, to make the necessary changes to the flawed design, citing:
"That design is a key lure for customers, and changing it could harm sales," a spokesperson for General Mills said."
We intend to show them that not changing the design will harm sales!
On January 15th, after rescuing a skunk with its head caught in a Yoplait container (story and video), Wildlife Emergency Services launched a campaign on Change.org, petitioning General Mills to, once and for all, get rid of the flawed cup design. Sign the petition HERE.
We are not sure why General Mills is so resistant to moving away from the "vercon" container, when they already offer Yoplait, even the Original blend, in safer containers, but limited to certain stores.
This is the new and safer cup design, available only at a few select locations.
So far, General Mills has only replied with a canned response like this one:
Dear Ms. *******:
Thank you for contacting us about the Yoplait container.
Yoplait also wants to protect and preserve wildlife – and we have supported efforts to help educate consumers about responsible disposal of food packaging.
The “Don′t Trash Wildlife” message is to:
Rinse and Recycle. Rinse all recyclable glass and plastic containers to remove any food remnants or odors. Even containers you′re going to throw away should be thoroughly rinsed before disposal to avoid attracting wildlife to your trash.
Cut and Crush. Plastic containers should be cut and/or crushed before you put them in your garbage or recycling bin.
Close and Cover. Make sure plastic food wrap is rinsed and contained inside a closed garage bag. Never throw plastic packaging in open trashcans. Put garbage out for collection in plastic or metal trash containers with secure covers.
We hope you will continue to use and enjoy our products.
Rhonda Short, Consumer Services
Here's their online response to Can you change the cup to save wildlife?