Consum-actors

Barilla’s comparative claims. Is it alright? Great Italian Food Trade’s report

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Great Italian Food Trade – an independent information site – reports the Barilla Group to the Italian Antitrust authority.

Great Italian Food Trade complains about Barilla’s comparative nutrition claims – referring to the reduced saturated fat content – which seem misleading as the comparison is based on the previous recipe of the same foods, which are no longer available on the shelves. Instead of – as prescribed by the European rules and the Code of Conduct of the AIDEPI Association (chaired by Paolo Barilla) – on the average of the products currently sold in Italy.

Because of this commercial practice, consumers are misled by believing that Barilla products are actually lighter than competitive foods. But often this is not the case. And this is why the various institutions called to interpret the Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation (EC 1924/06) have already begun to clarify how the comparison should be carried out with the average of the best-selling foods in the relevant product category.

We had already reported in recent months the unlawfulness of comparative claims made on Cric Crok’s popcorn as well as by Barilla on the Mulino Bianco’s Macine and the Ringo biscuits (Pavesi, Barilla group). Highlighting the violation of the above mentioned rules.

The survey continued on 42 products labeled Mulino Bianco, Gran Cereale, Pavesi, Ringo. Biscuits, snacks, toast, breadsticks, crackers, bruschette and others. On the labels – photographed in several supermarkets between June and August 2017 – what stands out in big type is the boasting of the reduction of significant amounts of saturated fats. Unless referring with an asterisk to the not admitted comparison, on a less visible part of the packaging, in smaller characters.

The petition also reports a dozen of examples of the proper work of other main Italian confectionery industries, which make the comparison to the average of the best-selling products on the market. Apparently, therefore, the giant of Parma would be the only one among the great operators to disregard the established criteria.

The Italian Antitrust authority, itself, had already clarified that in the case of comparative nutritional indications, the label must always refer to the data source (e.g. Nielsen, Symphony IRI, industrial category association) used to process the comparison parameter. While details of the analysis can be specified on the operator’s website.

The Ministry of Health and the Consumer Associations, through the National Council of Consumers and Users, were also informed about this. With the objective of shedding more light on the ways in which common rules apply, and to put an end to behaviors that lead to prejudice to both consumers and competitors.

Dario Dongo

About the author

Dario Dongo

Dario Dongo

Dario Dongo, avvocato e giornalista, PhD in diritto alimentare internazionale, fondatore di WIISE (FARE - GIFT – Food Times) e cofondatore del Fatto Alimentare.