Court condemns Italian “pure chocolate” labelling claim

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The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that consumers in Italy are being misled by local legislation that allows confectioners to use the phrase “pure chocolate” on labels to describe chocolate made with 100% cocoa butter.

Italy was taken to court in 2008 after it failed to change its rules to meet EU laws that standardise sales names for cocoa and chocolate. Under EU law, products that contain up to 5% of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter can be labelled as chocolate.
The EU changed its chocolate labelling rules in 2000 after manufacturers’ use of non-vegetable fats – especially in the UK – triggered a row in the EU and prompted the directive.

The ECJ says, “According to the Commission, the consumer must be informed whether or not substitute vegetable fats are present in the chocolate through the labelling and not through the use of a separate sales name.”

Italy faces a fine if it fails to amend its law.