Ritter Sport wins against Stiftung Warentest in second instance
The Higher Regional Court of Munich decided that the German consumer group “Stiftung Warentest” is not allowed to claim that the chocolate producer “Ritter Sport” is using synthetical flavor for his “Whole Hazelnut Chocolate” instead of the stated natural vanilla flavor.
Background of the Caseand Subject Matter
The German consumer group “Stiftung Warentest” compared nut chocolate bars of different producers and published the results on their website and in their magazine in November 2013. The “Whole Hazelnut Chocolate” of Ritter Sport just gets the evaluation “poor” because Stiftung Warentest is of the opinion that the chocolate contains the artificial vanilla flavoring “piperonal”, which is falsely labeled as a natural flavor. Therefore, the list of ingredients is misleading.
Ritter Sport argued that natural resources also contain piperonal, for example vanilla or pepper. To produce the chocolate, Ritter Sport only uses natural piperonal with methods which are allowed by the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on flavourings and certain food ingredients with flavoring properties. Thus, the claim of Stifung Warentest is wrong.
But, the Consumer group was still convinced that the flavor cannot be obtained in a natural way and therefore they still showed the test results. Therefore Ritter Sport obtained an interim injunction against Stifung Warentest at the Regional Court Munich (I) (13 January 2014/ Case No: 9 O 25477/13). But, Stiftung Warentest appealed the decision.
The Higher Regional Court of Munich confirmed the first instance decision and rejected the appeal because Stifung Warentest’s claim was not proven. They have no evidence that “piperonal” is not natural. The court also pointed out that because of the importance of their statement, product testers have to examine very carefully if their statements are proper before they publish them.
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