Galatine, deceptive advertising. GIFT reports the case to the IAP (Italy’s Advertising Self-Regulatory Institute) and to the Italian Antitrust authority.
Great Italian Food Trade (GIFT) has examined the labels of the historical Galatine candies, concluding their deceptiveness in the affirmation of equivalence between their milk powder ingredient and fresh milk, as well as in the reference to ‘only natural ingredients’. The issue is part of the s.c. ‘milk sounding’ dossier, which has been recently submitted either to the IAP (Italy’s Advertising Self-Regulatory Institute) and to the Italian Antitrust authority.
Galatine is the name of an iconic Italian candy, a squared ‘tablet with milk powder’. The quantity of this ingredient – as reported on its labels – varies between 40% (basic Milk version), 39% (Strawberry Galatine) and 33% (Chocolate Galatine). Nevertheless – in spite of mathematical rules – the different quantities of powdered milk are always claimed as equivalent to the same quantity (80%) of pasteurized fresh milk, on the relevant Front-of-Pack labels. (1)
It is difficult to understand the composition of the sweets, compared to the wording ‘80% milk’. Having regard to their nutritional and quantitative profiles. How is it possible that a proportion of milk powder that varies by more than 20% (between the basic product and its chocolate version) corresponds to a single equivalent of 80% of fresh milk? Another question is, which is category of fresh milk – whole, partially skimmed or skimmed – taken as a term of reference?
Equivalence to fresh milk?
From a nutritional point of view, even if we could assume that the milk supply for the candies would actually correspond to 80% of only pasteurized fresh skimmed milk (therefore 80 g per 100 g of product), the total carbohydrate intake and related sugars provided by the ‘milk’ ingredient to Galatine should be 4.2 g per 100 g. (2)
The nutritional declaration of Galatine Latte instead, shows values equal to 78 g of carbohydrates per 100 g of product, of which 69 g of sugars. The nature of the product is indeed very different from what it is actually presented on the package.
‘Commercial communication must avoid any declaration or representation that is likely to mislead consumers, including by means of omissions, ambiguities or exaggerations that are not clearly hyperbolic, especially as regards to the characteristics and effects of the product'(Advertising Self-Regulatory Code, article 2)
By paradox, literally following the instructions of the producer, 2 packs of ‘Milk Galatine’ would be equivalent to 200 ml of milk. Which are recommended as a daily consumption from the Italian Ministry of Health. Despite that, 2 packs of candy provide more than 120 g of sugars, more than 130% of the recommended daily intake for an adult (90 g). As recognized from the European legislator, upon EFSA guidelines.(3)
The message is wrong, misleading and miseducating. It’s like comparing a glass of fruit juice to the consumption of those fresh fruit and vegetable rations recommended in the nutritional guidelines. Which brings to a deteriorating effect, especially in those sections of the population (young or old) that more than others need to receive unambiguous and consistent information on the balanced diet to follow.
Good and natural ingredients?
In spite of the promise of milk prevalence (80%, i.e. four parts in five), the significant ingredients of Galatine Latte – over 55% – are sugar and glucose syrup. Among other things, they cannot certainly be qualified as ‘good and natural ingredients’, as it’s also claimed on the back of pack of the label. Since the technology required to transform beets into sucrose implies an intensive process which doesn’t comply with the concept of ‘naturalness’. (4)
‘Natural’ means a product that exists or is consist by naturally occurring ingredients, derived from traditional processes or in any case not very processed or without human interventions, chemical or extraction processes, with additions of additives or flavouring substances’ (Food Standards Agency, UK)
Regulation EU No. 1169/11 provides that ‘Food information is accurate, clear and easily understandable to the consumer‘ and ‘does not mislead, in particular:
a) regarding the characteristics of the food and, in particular, the nature, the identity, the properties, the composition, the quantity, (…)’ i.e. by ‘attributing to the foodstuff effects or properties that it does not possess‘ (…). (5)
The Consumer’s Code (6) and the Advertising Self-Regulatory Code, (7) in turn, require commercial communication to comply with general criteria of correctness, completeness and clarity. With specific regard to food products, and the relevant information, from the overall point of view in the average consumer’s perspective.
‘Cloetta’s vision is to become the most admired company (…) above all for the responsible way in which we relate to the world around us. All Cloetta employees share responsibility for their behaviour towards our customers, consumers, owners, suppliers and employees. “As a company, we must always act by showing that we deserve the trust and appreciation of the parties involved.” (Bengt Baron, Cloetta’s CEO, Code of Conduct)
Misleading advertising must be halted
Great Italian Food Trade has reported this case to the Institute for Advertising Self-Regulation and to the Italian Antitrust authority, whose effectiveness of intervention has already been highlighted, (8) in order to halt as soon as possible the commercial information referred to the above, of which we can gather the serious misleading.
Galatine is an historical Italian brand, registered back in 1956 by Polenghi Lombardo S.p.A., a milk producer which then sold it to Sperlari (which belonged to the Swedish Cloetta group, before its sale to the German Katjes International group). A valuable candy above all from the symbolic point of view, because it was originally promoted by recalling the value of milk. Rather than proposing the candy as its substitute (!). And this is the right message to be replaced, putting aside misleading and miseducational claims.
(1) ‘The term “fresh pasteurized milk” is defined as the milk which arrives raw at the packaging establishment and which, subjected to a single heat treatment within 48 hours of milking, is presented for consumption;
a) test of negative alkaline phosphatase
b) a non-denatured soluble serum protein content of not less than 14 percent of the total protein;
c) positive peroxidase test. (…) ‘(Italian law No. 169/89, Discipline of the treatment and marketing of cow’s milk)
(2) Source: food composition tables published by the CREA, Italian Food and Nutrition Research Centre
(3) See Reg. EU 1169/11, Food Information Regulation, Annex XIII
(4) Concept of ‘natural ingredient’ is accurately explained in the Food Standards Agency (UK) Guidelines, at https://www.food.gov.uk/northern-ireland/niregulation/niguidancenotes/fresh-pure-natural-ni
(5) Reg. UE 1169/11, article 7. This regulation is unfortunately still lacking, in Italy, specific sanctions. Although the most serious violations can always gather the attention of the criminal judiciary
(6) Italian Legislative Decree 6.9.05, n. 206
(7) Advertising Self-Regulatory Code, Articles 2 and 15
(8) See eBook ‘The Label’ (Dario Dongo, il Fatto Alimentare, Milan, 2011)