Sangemini, misleading advertising

Sangemini, misleading advertising

Sangemini, mineral water and milk, unlikely comparison. Rather, illegal

The milk sounding phenomenon, that we have reported on Galatine candies and ‘Fettine di Latte’ (lit. ‘Milk Slices’), is enriched by a new case. No less, Sangemini’s mineral water, in its last ad campaign, is compared to milk! What else is missing to this theatre of deception?

Illegal comparative claims

1 liter of Sangemini water contains the same amount of calcium than 2 glasses of milk (125ml each) or 2 yogurt pots (125gr each)’. Are we joking?

The Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation, NHC, provides the possibility of making nutritional comparative claims under the following conditions. (1)

1) The comparison must be carried out between identical quantities of food products that belong to the same category. That is to say, between products which share

– the consumption pattern (i.e. breakfast, snack, aperitif, meals),

– raw materials (e.g. milk or fruit),

– manufacturing process (ex. fruit juices or fruit nectars, fresh dairy products or hard cheeses).

2) The difference between comparative foods must be substantial, in that it has to justify one or more of the nutritional claims mentioned into the exhaustive list set out in the Annex of the EU regulation 1924/06. This implies that:

– claims allowed refer to the increase or reduction (+30%) of a nutrient, energy reduction (-30%), reduced levels of micronutrients (-10%), or salt/sodium (-25%),

– the comparison is not allowed between foodstuffs which energy value, nutrients or micronutrients differences are below the limits above-mentioned. It is therefore, for example,  forbidden to claim the equivalence of nutritional benefits between beverages and fruit portions.

3) The touchstone lies on the average of best selling products on the target market, in the relevant category, currently present on shelves.

For the above reasons, it is completely unacceptable to highlight the equivalence of calcium levels in a liter of mineral water with 250 ml of milk or yogurt. Either because they are food products of different nature and because of the poorly-hidden significant difference is in disfavor rather than in support of Sangemini.

Deceitful advertising and unfair commercial practices

Sangemini’s deceitful advertising is even more serious because it adds to the illegal comparison with milk and yogurt the detriment of the latter. ‘Fat-free, calorie-free, without any risk of intolerance’ you read on the web page, right after the reference to dairy products. 

A clear breach of the principle of raising doubts on nutritional security and adequacy of other foodstuffs. (2) Further aggravated by the comprehensive ways of presentation, whereas the Sangemini bottle of water is displayed next to two glasses of milk and as many pots of yogurt. (!)

Checks and penalties

Health authorities have the duty to implement administrative fines for infringement of the claim Regulation.(4) 

The Self-Regulation Advertising Council, IAP, can take action – without the need to receive a report – and order the stop of deceitful advertisements.

The Italian Competition Authority, so-called Antitrust, has in turn the ability to act and apply administrative penalties up to €5m to punish unfair commercial practices. Which will likely also be put into practice in case of illegal claims.

Dario Dongo



(1) See EU regulation 1924/06, article 9. Consolidated text on

(2) EU regulation 1924/06, article 3.2.b. Meanwhile this constitutes an infringement of EU regulation 1169/11, article 7.1.c, given that the absence of fats and calories is common to all mineral waters

(3) See EU regulation 432/12 and subsequent amendments. See pages 8 and 9 of the consolidated text on

(4) See Italian Legislative Decree No. 27/2017. For the analysis of the decree reference is made on

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.