Wednesday, 12 September 2012

No such thing as 'easily digestible' wine - CJEU in Deutsches Weintor C-544/10

6 September 2012: CJEU judgement in Deutsches Weintor (C-544/10)

Last Thursday the CJEU decided that wine producers may not label or market their wine as 'easily digestible' even if that 'health claim' is correct.

In order to protect consumers and assure that they are properly informed and not misled by 'creative' advertising in making their choice of products, the Regulation No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods sets out strict requirements for safe and adequate labelling of food and beverages. Using the words 'easily digestible' on wine labels counts as a health claim, pursuant to the CJEU, especially when it is accompanied by a reference to the reduced content of substances frequently perceived by consumers as being harmful. (Par. 27) Art. 4(3) of the Regulation prohibited all 'health claims' relating to alcohol beverages, which means that wine producers cannot claim that since the specific wine has reduced acidity it is particularly easy or pleasant to digest (producing a beneficial nutritional or physiological effect in consumers, making them believe that their digestive system will not suffer or suffer just a little from, even repeated, wine consumption). (Par. 30-31) It does not also matter that the health claim in question may have been technically correct, since the specific wine was less acidic than other wines. The health claim still remains incomplete, since it: "...is silent as to the fact that, regardless of a sound digestion, the dangers inherent in the consumption of alcoholic beverages are not in any way removed, or even limited." (Par. 51) Therefore, even a correct claim can be misleading to consumers and is prohibited in order to ensure a high level of health protection for consumers. (Par. 52)

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