(CN) – Chocolate makers in Italy cannot make a distinction on product labels to advertise “pure” chocolate as not containing substitute fats, the Court of Justice ruled.
Since European Union member countries must use uniform language to describe products, all chocolate containing more than 5 percent fat from sources other than cocoa are required to state on the package, in bold, “contains vegetable fats in addition to cocoa butter.”
Italy passed a law, however, allowing use of the phrase “pure chocolate” on labels of chocolate not containing substitute vegetable fats.
The European Commission sued for infringement, saying Italy cannot introduce new names relating to labeling the purity of chocolate. Italian chocolatiers must instead use the uniform statement, the commission claimed.
The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union agreed with the commission. Naming of cocoa and chocolate products must be fully harmonized to guarantee a single, internal EU market, the court wrote.
The labeling rules are compulsory, not discretionary, the court ruled.
Italy may not introduce a “system of double names,” as this goes against the goals of having correct, neutral and objective product labeling, the court continued.
Italian chocolatiers may still use the wording “pure chocolate,” but not to indicate the absence of other fats, the court said.