(CN) – A German tea maker can’t advertise that its drink contains natural raspberry and vanilla flavorings when neither raspberries nor vanilla are ingredients, the EU high court ruled Thursday.
A German consumer-protection group complained that Teekanne’s “Felix Raspberry and Vanilla Adventure” drink – and its packaging – misled customers into believing the tea contained raspberries and vanilla, or at least their natural flavorings, and demanded that the company stop advertising that the drink does.
The German court hearing the case asked the European Court of Justice to weigh in on whether consumers can be misled when a product’s packaging gives the impression that it contains a certain ingredient that is not actually present.
In a ruling issued Thursday, the Luxembourg-based high court noted that EU law requires food and drink labels must have “correct, neutral and objective information that does not mislead consumers.”
Teekanne’s label – with pictures of vanilla flowers and raspberries and words like ‘taste of vanilla’ and ‘taste of raspberry’ – could easily mislead customers who don’t take the time to read the ingredient list, the court said in its 5-page opinion.
“it is for the referring court to carry out an overall examination of the various items comprising the fruit tea’s labeling in order to determine whether an average consumer who is reasonably well informed, and reasonably observant and circumspect, may be misled as to the presence of raspberry and vanilla-flower or flavorings obtained from those ingredients,” the court wrote.
“The referring court must in particular take into account the words and depictions used as well as the location, size, color, font, language, syntax and punctuation of the various elements on the fruit tea’s packaging,” the EU court concluded.
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