04 - Innovating Food, Innovating the Law - Iacopo Berti


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Piacenza, October 14, 2011
"Innovating Food, Innovating the Law"

Iacopo Berti (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza del Mercato, Italy)
Informing or advertising? The blurring boundaries

video: http://vimeo.com/31026695

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04 - Innovating Food, Innovating the Law - Iacopo Berti

  1. 1. Informing and Advertising Protection of consumers and AGCM decisions Iacopo Berti
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Consumer Code – art. 18/27 Unfair commercial practices (Dir. CE 29/2005) </li></ul><ul><li>AGCM competence body with wide procedural tool </li></ul><ul><li>Art. 21 Misleading presentation on characteristics, price, ect. </li></ul><ul><li>Art. 22 Omission of relevant information for consumer choice </li></ul><ul><li>General standard of diligence and correctness vis a vis consumers </li></ul><ul><li>Relevant decision in the food sector but many intervention with MS or solved after a request of information </li></ul>
  3. 3. Food products <ul><li>A) Health Claims </li></ul><ul><li>B) Nutrition Claims </li></ul><ul><li>C) Content/Origin/Certification Claims </li></ul><ul><li>D) Green Claims </li></ul>
  4. 4. A) Health Claims <ul><li>6 decisions with sanctions </li></ul><ul><li>- PS 195 Alixir (Barilla); 200.000 Boll. 31/2008; </li></ul><ul><li>- PS 917 Benessere Attivo ( MILA) :100.000 Boll. 32/2008; </li></ul><ul><li>- PS 2O Danacol (Danone) : 250.000 Boll. 19/2009; </li></ul><ul><li>- PS 649 ProActiv (Unilever): 100.000 Boll. 19/2009; </li></ul><ul><li>- PS 5595 Pastariso (RisoScotti) :120.000 Boll. 47/2010 </li></ul><ul><li>- PS6892 Pasta Colavita : 40.000 Boll. 38/2011. </li></ul><ul><li>2 proceedings closed with commitments </li></ul><ul><li>- PS6813 KELLOGS OPTIVITA Boll. 21/2011 </li></ul><ul><li>- PS6821 ORO CEREACOL (Kraft) Boll. 21/2011 </li></ul><ul><li>1 letter to European Commission and Efsa </li></ul><ul><li>4 Administrative judgements (TAR n. 13779/09, Mila; 314/2010 Alixir; 1811/2011, Danacol; CdS n. 5115/2011 Alixir): analysis confirmed and sanctions reduced </li></ul>
  5. 5. A) Health Claims <ul><li>Complete valutation of packaging and commercial communication </li></ul><ul><li>Health and nutrition claims used can be an unfair commercial practice pursuant to art. 20 e ss. of the Consumer Code sub specie misleading practice (art. 21 lett. b) on characteristics and benefits of products </li></ul><ul><li>Reg. CE 1924/06 (c.d. claims regulation) contains principles and prescriptions for the assessment of health and nutrition claims and their ammissibility, assessment and limitations: no check power to a specific body </li></ul><ul><li>TAR acknowledged the role of AGCM in the enforcement of consumers protection, in cooperation with Ministero della Salute </li></ul>
  6. 6. A) Health Claims/Evaluation of correctness <ul><li>Three Evaluation Criteria </li></ul><ul><li>A ) Check if the health claim is approved by the Commission or if it is provisionally accepted (contained in the general list done by the Commission and trasmitted to Efsa) </li></ul><ul><li>B ) Check if the claim respects the general limitations and principles of Reg Claims </li></ul><ul><li>C) Check the Ads against the general criteria of the UCP Dir, evaluating every omissions or misleading information: too much emphasis on the health promise that exaggerates the benefit of the product or relevant omissions on the nature of the product or on the risks involved in its consumption </li></ul><ul><li>No scientific evaluation of the claim, no analysis of scientific documents </li></ul>
  7. 7. A) Health Claims General criteria of Professional Diligence <ul><li>Specific standard of professional diligence - fundamental criterium of the unfair commercial practice - requested for this specific kind of communication </li></ul><ul><li>i) health issues on food (previously forbidden); </li></ul><ul><li>ii) general principles of Reg. Claims; </li></ul><ul><li>iii) critic evaluation by consumers: specific attention required by Ministero della Salute </li></ul><ul><li>Uncertainty and complexity are notjustifications for the use of health claims </li></ul>
  8. 8. i) Check if the claim is admitted <ul><li>Alixir : claim “ slows cell aging ” ( rallenta l ’ invecchiamento cellulare ) on the products packages (Iuvenis) and used in commercial communications; </li></ul><ul><li>Mila Benessere attivo al the verde : claim “ slows cell aging ; neutralize free racidals , r ejuvenate ” </li></ul><ul><li>Danacol : despite the effectiveness of sterols in reducing cholesterol, claim “ reduces cholesterol In three weeks ” </li></ul><ul><li>Pastariso Scotti Attiva : claim “ beta-glucans that help to REDUCE CHOLESTEROL ” , although EFSA accepted a more soft claim “ contribute to mantain normal blood concentration of cholesterol ” </li></ul>
  9. 9. ii) Check if the Reg. conditions are respected <ul><li>Quantity of substance </li></ul><ul><li>Art. 5 lett d) Reg. 1924/06 clearly expresses that “ the nutrient or other substance for which the claim is made is contained in the final product in a significant quantity as defined in Community legislation or, where such rules do not exist, in a quantity that will produce the nutritional or physiological effect claimed as established by generally accepted scientific evidence ” . </li></ul><ul><li>Pasta Riso Scotti/Pasta Colavita : portion of pasta brought 0,75 g of beta-glucans instead of 3 g required to obtain the restraining/reducing effect of cholesterol </li></ul><ul><li>The quantity of the product that can be reasonably expected to be consumed has been identified in the portion in relation to the specific product </li></ul>
  10. 10. ii) Check if the Reg. conditions are respected <ul><li>Reference to “ the importance of a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle ” (art. 3 c) and 10, par 2, a) </li></ul><ul><li>Alixir : a) suggested by Barilla as a complement with assumption of Alixir products; b) unfair comparison with ordinary foods in order to underline their limited efficacy (600 g garlic, 200 g onion, 4 cups green tea) (art 3, lett. b) </li></ul><ul><li>Proactive : Unfair comparison with ordinary foods (8 kg of oranges, 12 kg of carrots, 42 kg of tomatoes) </li></ul><ul><li>Danacol : Endorsment of a medical association (use of its logo) in the commercial messages in order to increase credibility: confusion about the nature of the products (art. 12 of Reg. Claims) </li></ul>
  11. 11. iii) The correct utilization of the claims <ul><li>The third analysis concerns the fairness of the whole commercial communication bearing the claim </li></ul><ul><li>Alixir : a) food program suggested in relation to Alixir products; b) “ the secret to a longer life ( il segreto di vivere al meglio – vivi più a lungo ): sentences able to attribute a greater and general efficacy to the products </li></ul><ul><li>Danacol : a) Cholesterol problem presented in very simplistic terms: “eaten too much after Christmas? Take Danacol!” ; b) Lack of any indication enabling consumers to understand in what situations Danacol may be taken, what kind of people can benefit from it and to what extent, its limited and complementary role with a diet and a change in lifestyle ; c) Lack of any reference to limitations that are legally mandatory on the packaging (ex: max 3 g. die); d) Incomplete reference to tests and studies mentioned in ads </li></ul>
  12. 12. iii) The correct utilization of the claims <ul><li>Proactive : a) correlation between the product and a prevention campaign specifically targeted to women over fourty based on the physiological modification of their cholesterol level, in order to suggest a solution (the product) without any indications about its limited use; </li></ul><ul><li>b) Absence of any reference to limitations that are legally mandatory on the packaging (es: max 3 g. die); </li></ul><ul><li>c) Incomplete reference to tests and studies mentioned in ads </li></ul><ul><li>Riso Scotti/Pasta Colavita : inappropriate informations about the specific quantity of beta-glucans in the product and the daily amount necessary for the health effect, moreover written with characters smaller than the principal claim, and with a different placement </li></ul>
  13. 13. iii) The correct utilization of the claims <ul><li>Letter to UE Commission and to EFSA </li></ul><ul><li>Invitation to plan specific guidelines on how to use health and nutrition claims (uniform application of Community rules). Specification of general clauses of the Regulation 1924/06 (art. 3 lett. a): the use of nutrition and health claims shall not be false, ambiguous or misleading) </li></ul><ul><li>Specific problem highlighted: use of the claim to emphasize the effectiveness of the product in not suitable terms to the nature, destination and effects that can be reasonably expected (emphasis on health problems; relevant omissis about appropriate diet and healty lifestyle) </li></ul><ul><li>Meanwhile, extreme caution in auhtorization procedures </li></ul>
  14. 14. B) Nutrition claims <ul><li>2 decisions with sanctions </li></ul><ul><li>- PS5851 MISURA Biscotti senza colesterolo </li></ul><ul><li>sanction 100.000 in Boll. 21/2011 </li></ul><ul><li>- PS6691 GALBUSERA Biscotti 0,001 Colesterolo </li></ul><ul><li>sanction 190.000 in Boll. 21/2011; </li></ul>
  15. 15. B) Nutrition claims <ul><li>Misleading indication of the quantity of cholesterol fat in food products that cannot use low fat indications </li></ul><ul><li>“ No cholesterol” “0,0001 Cholesterol” </li></ul><ul><li>Art. 5, lett. a): the presence, absence or reduced content in a food or category of food of a nutrient or other substance in respect of which the claim is made has been shown to have a beneficial nutritional or physiological effect, as established by generally accepted scientific evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Annex of the regulation indicates precise wording for low in fat and fat free related to specific quantity </li></ul><ul><li>The indication of other substance with the wording “ CONTAINS ” has to fullfill two conditions: a) if specific conditions are not laid down in this Regulation, or any claim likely to have the same meaning for the consumer, b) compliance with all the applicable provisions of this Regulation as Article 5. </li></ul>
  16. 16. C) Origin, nature and quality of the product <ul><li>4 decisions with sanctions </li></ul><ul><li>- PS 411- Ovito-Magicannuccia approvati FIMP </li></ul><ul><li>695.000 Boll. 30/2008 </li></ul><ul><li>- PS2807 VERDI SPUMANTE </li></ul><ul><li>35.000 Boll. 35/2009 </li></ul><ul><li>- PS4850 Lardo di Colonnata </li></ul><ul><li>5.000 Boll. 6/2011 </li></ul><ul><li>- PS5582 PERLA-PROVENIENZA MIELE </li></ul><ul><li>10.000 Boll. 28/2011 </li></ul>
  17. 17. C) Origin, nature and quality of the product PS411 - Ovito-magicannuccia Approvati FIMP <ul><li>Unfair use of the claim “ approvato FIMP - Federazione dei Medici Pediatri ” (approved by the Federation of Pediatricians) placed on several food (eggs) and non food products </li></ul><ul><li>The use of this claim followed a commercial contract among the Federation and several firms for the use of the claim on products specifically targeted to children. </li></ul><ul><li>No approval process, no check of qualitative standard were followed by the Federation </li></ul><ul><li>Capacity to influence consumer choice, considering the relaibility of the specific Federation of Doctors </li></ul><ul><li>Violation of a specific rule (article 23, lettera d ) </li></ul><ul><li>Sanction very high to the Federation - 300.000 of the 695.000 sanction applied) </li></ul>
  18. 18. C) Origin, nature and quality of the product PS2807 - Verdi Spumante <ul><li>Unfair the name “Verdi Spumante ” used to denominate an alcholic, aromatic beverage </li></ul><ul><li>It is misleading the use of the term “ spumante ” for a product that is not a “ vino spumante ”, under the specific regulation </li></ul><ul><li>Specific legislation limits the use of the term “ vino spumante ” only under specific conditions, and there is an obligation to clearly distinguish the products that are not Vino Spumante </li></ul>
  19. 19. C) Origin, nature and quality of the product PS4850 Lardo di Colonnata <ul><li>Unfair the use of the company name “Lardo di Colonnata di Giannarelli Srl” to promote a product that cannot use the IGP name “Lardo di Colonnata” </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis was not the correctness of the company name, but the use of this name in the package – placed in evidence with great characters -, as well as in the brochure and in other promotional activity </li></ul><ul><li>This use and enphasis creates in the consumers confusion on the nature of the product and particularly with the specific IGP nature </li></ul>
  20. 20. C) Origin, nature and quality of the product PS5582 PERLA-PROVENIENZA MIELE <ul><li>Unfair advertising on the origin of the honey “Perla dell’Etna” </li></ul><ul><li>In the promotion of the product there were many reference to its sicilian origin “ Dai delicati e profumati fiori di zagara nasce il tipico miele fiori d'arancio Perla dell'Etna”, “la grande passione per la tradizione e la genuinità hanno dato vita ad una serie di prodotti cresciuti al sole e al clima temperato della Sicilia”. </li></ul><ul><li>The honey was instead produced in spain, and this origin was only indicated in the inside part of the pack cap </li></ul><ul><li>Misleading advertising that influence significantly the consumer choice on the origin of the product </li></ul>
  21. 21. C) Origin of the product (DOP/IGP) <ul><li>Origin of the food product (New italian legislation) </li></ul><ul><li>Artt. 4 and 5 of Legge n. 4 of 2011, concerning labelling and advertising of food, identify as unfair commercial practice the omission of informations required by art. 4: </li></ul><ul><li>Origin of not finished products ; </li></ul><ul><li>F or finished product: a) place where “ last substancial conversion ” has been made, b) “ place of farming and breeding of prevalent, agricultural raw material ” </li></ul>
  22. 22. D) Green/Enviromental Claims <ul><li>1 Decision and 1 proceeding still pending both on bottles for mineral water </li></ul><ul><li>PS/4026 Acqua San Benedetto (70.000) Boll. 52/2009 </li></ul><ul><li>In the ADS San Benedetto used specific and quantified green claims to present a new PET bottle named “ eco-friendly ” ( “ costanti investimenti in ricerca che dal 1983 hanno permesso di ridurre almeno del 30% la quantità di plastica impiegata e quindi di contenere il consumo di energia ” , “ ha ridotto l ’ impiego di plastica per singola bottiglia in quantità pari al 58% per la 0,5 L ”) </li></ul><ul><li>The use of any green data has to be supported by precise, verificable and certified documentation prior to its use in the promotional activity </li></ul><ul><li>No sufficent evidence produced by San Benedetto </li></ul><ul><li>Green claims clearly distinguish the products and greatly influence consumer choice (specific Commission Guidelines) </li></ul>
  23. 23. Conclusions <ul><li>Great attention of the AGCM in the enforcement of unfair commercial practices relating food products: health and nutrition claims, green claims and origin of the products can be used both on packaging and in the various promotional activities </li></ul><ul><li>Information and advertising are a common line in the consumer choice perspective </li></ul>