Food Law Corner

The CERHA HEMPEL Food Law Corner provides an insight into current legal developments and the latest case-law in the food and beverage industry. Our attorneys regularly advise clients on the regulatory requirements in connection with food information, health and nutrition claims, advertising & marketing, novel foods, the introduction of food supplements on the market and much more. We represent our clients in administrative proceedings, cases under the Unfair Competition Act, and trademark protection including PDO and PGI.

2021

"OVERPRICED" – Blatant advertising

In proceedings involving two supermarket chains brought under the Unfair Competition Act for alleged unfair commercial practices, the Supreme Court ruled that the slogan "HOFER PREIS, ALLES ANDERE IST OVERPRICED" (Hofer price – Everything else is overpriced) constitutes blatant advertising – a promotional statement without any credibility or validity.

Use of CBD in cosmetics and foods

CBD products continue to be widely available. In November 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled – for the first time – on the legality of CBD, clarifying in its judgment that CBD does not constitute a narcotic drug as defined in the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs; this is the case irrespective of whether the CBD is produced synthetically or obtained naturally from the hemp plant – and from which parts (seeds and leaves vs. flowering and fruiting tops) (CJEU 19 November 2020, C-663/18). This ruling also has legal consequences for cosmetics and foodstuffs.

Important ruling by Administrative Court – retailer responsibility under food labelling law

The question of who bears responsibility for ensuring that food is labelled in compliance with the law is an issue of practical importance: Is it the manufacturer or the retailer?

Strict conditions for national measures imposing certain additional particulars regarding origin or provenance

Harmonised European Union legislation that imposes an obligation to indicate the country of origin or place of provenance of foods does not preclude Member States from adopting additional national legislation providing for additional mandatory particulars regarding the origin or provenance. However, certain conditions must be met. In particular, there must be an objectively proven link between certain qualities of the food and its origin or provenance.

Self-evidently misleading trade name "baby water"

Bottled "natural mineral water sourced from the ***-rock spring", marketed under the trade name "Babywasser" (Baby water), may not be described by the terms "high quality water" and "boiling not required" as this is self-evidently misleading.

Several food products, one administrative fine

In general, the "cumulation principle" applies with respect to administrative criminal law. If several administrative offences are committed, each individual violation is fined without there being an aggregated penalty.

Misleading claim as to the effect of a product improving cardiac output

"Coenzyme Q10 Capsules", "L-Carnitine Tartrate (Lonza)" and "L-Carnosine Capsules", all three of which are designated as food supplements, shall not be attributed and advertised with the disease-related claim that the product in question or its contents may boost cardiac output from 8 % to 33 %.

Retailer responsibility for non-compliance with food information rules?

In practice, the question often arises whether a retailer is responsible for infringements relating to the labelling of branded goods. Article 8 of the Food Information Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, "FIR") provides an answer to this question.

Different batches, no application of the "ne bis in idem" principle

Clients often enquire whether an administrative penalty can be imposed once only or per product in connection with the placing on the market of products. Answering this question (which is rarely relevant in practice) is difficult and depends on the circumstances.

Trademark contrary to public policy: No trademark protection for "Cannabis"-signs at EU level

Under EU law, inter alia, the following signs are not to be registered as trade marks: "Trade marks which are contrary to public policy or to accepted principles of morality" (Article 7(1)(f) of Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009). On this basis, registration of the device trademark "CANNABIS STORE AMSTERDAM" as an EU trademark was recently refused.