There are two recent developments underlining the apparent need for more guidance on food labelling in transnational cases, in particular with regard to the origin. One is a referral by the German Federal Court of Justice concerning the labelling of mushrooms that had been relocated during the growing process. The second is the publishing of a draft Implementing Regulation establishing rules for indicating the country of origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient of a food where different to that given for that food by the European Commission.
The German Federal Court of Justice recently referred certain questions on the interpretation of European provisions in relation to the indication of origin of products in the fruit and vegetable sector to the Court of Justice of the European Union .
The questions arose in a dispute between a German association fighting unfair competition and a producer of cultivated mushrooms. The mushrooms were labelled with “Origin: Germany” without any further explanations. However, the cultivation took place in several steps and the mushrooms were only brought to Germany shortly before harvest.
The eventual ruling demonstrated that in an integrated world economy – even if an indication of origin is compliant with the current law, there might still be a need for additional clarifying notes in case a legitimate indication was misinterpreted by consumers.
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