Labelling of foodstuff – Felix Himbeer-Vanille Abenteuer

This time, no news from the ECJ: The labelling of a foodstuff must not mislead the consumer by giving the impression that a particular ingredient is present, even though it is not in fact present.

The German company Teekanne markets a fruit tea called ‘Felix Himbeer-Vanille Abenteuer’ (‘Felix raspberry and vanilla adventure’). The packaging comprises in particular depictions of raspberries and vanilla flowers and the indications ‘Früchtetee mit natürlichen aromen’ (‘fruit tea with natural flavourings’) and ‘Früchtetee mit natürlichen aromen – Himbeer-Vanille-Geschmack’ (‘fruit tea with natural flavourings – raspberry-vanilla taste’). In fact, the fruit tea does not contain natural ingredients from vanilla or raspberry or flavouring obtained from them. The list of ingredients, which is on one side of the packaging, reads: ‘Hibiscus, apple, sweet blackberry leaves, orange peel, rosehip, natural flavouring with a taste of vanilla, lemon peel, natural flavouring with a taste of raspberry, blackberries, strawberry, blueberry, elderberry’.

In its judgement C-195/14 of June 4, 2015, the Court makes clear that, in such a case, the list of ingredients, even though correct and comprehensive, may not be capable of correcting sufficiently the erroneous or misleading impression which the consumer gains from the labelling of the foodstuff. Therefore, where the labelling of a foodstuff gives the impression that a particular ingredient is present in that foodstuff, even though it is not in fact present (this being apparent solely from the list of ingredients), such labelling is such as could mislead the purchaser as to the characteristics of the foodstuff in question.

The list of ingredients may, even though correct and comprehensive, not be capable of correcting sufficiently the consumer’s erroneous or misleading impression that stems from such labelling.

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