Self-evidently misleading trade name "baby water"

misleading commercial practice Austrian Food Code product labelling Food Information Regulation

Administrative Supreme Court, 29/05/2020, Ra 2019/10/0144

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. In this regard, special characteristics are attributed to a product even though all comparable products have the same characteristics, in particular by emphasising the presence or absence of certain ingredients or nutrients (see Section 5 para. 2 no. 3 of the Food Safety and Consumer Protection Act; Article 7 para. 1 lit c of the Food Information Regulation).

The Austrian Mineral and Spring Water Regulation lays down which requirements natural mineral water must meet (original purity, free of microorganisms, etc.). All mineral waters must satisfy these criteria. However, the wording "high quality water" suggests to the consumer that the water is of better quality than comparable products. Furthermore, the statement "boiling not required" incorrectly gives the impression that other natural mineral waters do in fact need to be boiled. Thus, it also suggests that the water in question has a special quality characteristic that in reality all natural mineral waters possess.

In the present case, the food company, which was held liable for its actions under administrative criminal law, finally stumbled over a formal requirement. The designation "natural mineral water sourced from the ***-rock spring" on the product packaging, which complies with the Mineral and Spring Water Regulation, was smaller than the trade name "Baby water". However, the Mineral and Spring Water Regulation stipulates that the labelling on bottled water must provide information specifying the place or the name of the source in letters that are at least one and a half times as high and wide as the largest letter used for the trade name in question; this also applies mutatis mutandis to advertising (see Section 11 para. 3 of the Regulation).

Further detailed requirements for the placing of natural mineral and spring water on the market are contained in Chapter B 17 (Bottled waters) of the Austrian Food Code.