E.U. orders Italy to halt ‘pure chocolate’ labeling

by Eric Schroeder
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LUXEMBOURG — Italy must stop using the marketing claim “pure chocolate” to describe chocolate made with 100% cocoa butter, according to a Nov. 25 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union. If Italy fails to amend its law, the court said fines may be assessed.

“The European Union has introduced full harmonization of sales names for cocoa and chocolate products in order to guarantee the single nature of the internal market,” the court said. “Those names are both compulsory and reserved for the products listed in the E.U. legislation. That being so, the court holds that the legislation makes no provision for the sales name ‘pure chocolate’ and does not permit its introduction by a national legislature.”

Under the E.U. law, which was introduced in 2000, the labeling of products as chocolate is allowed for products that contain as much as 5% of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter.

The court noted Italy may show that its chocolate consists of pure cocoa butter, without additional vegetable fats, by adding a statement to the packaging.

“The inclusion elsewhere in the labeling of a neutral and objective statement informing consumers of the absence from the product of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter would be sufficient to ensure that consumers are given correct information,” the court said.

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