Food Labelling in the EU

Case C-37/11 European Commission v Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has infringed EU Law by allowing a product to be marketed in a manner that may be misleading for consumers. The Court of Justice has held that a milk product that cannot be classified as butter cannot be marketed under the designation, butter spread.

EU consumer law is big on product labelling and protects the interests of consumers by disallowing misleading labelling when marketing products, therefore certain terms may not be used to describe a product at all if they may be construed as deceiving the consumer as to the genuine nature and content of a product.

(For those of you that are interested), according to EU legislation [Council Regulation 1234/2007] only products made up of the following, may be marketed as butter

  • A milk fat content of not less than 80% but less than 90%.
  • A max water content of 16%.
  • A max dry non-fat milk material content of 2%.

 (there are exceptions to this laid out by the Commission). The product sold by the Czech Republic did not conform to the above and did not fall within any of the exceptions. The Court stated the decision was in line with EU policy of preserving competition and protecting consumers.

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