Koblenz court finds misleading advertising for “raw food” unlawful

Koblenz court finds misleading advertising for "raw food" unlawful

COLOGNE, Germany, 2022-Aug-17 — /EPR Network/ — If it says raw food on the outside, then there should actually be raw food on the inside. That was the verdict of the Landgericht (LG) Koblenz – the Regional Court of Koblenz – in a ruling from March 15, 2022 that saw the Court prohibit a food producer from advertising with misleading claims.

Healthy eating is the order of the day, and many consumers have their sights set on raw food in particular. But we at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte caution that advertising food items as “raw food” is misleading – and therefore also unlawful – if the product was heated beforehand, a finding that comes from a recent ruling of the Landgericht Koblenz.

The defendant in the case in question was a food producer that had been promoting its products such as grated coconut flakes, coconut puree, and coconut flour with statements like “100% natural and raw”, “raw food quality”, and “unrefined” on its website.

Germany”s Center for Protection against Unfair Competition – the Wettbewerbszentrale – took issue with this. The advertising was said to be misleading because the coconut meat used to produce the relevant products is heated for several minutes at a temperature of more than 87 degrees before being processed into flakes, puree, and other food products. Arguing that consumers take raw food products to mean those that are fresh and have not been heated for processing, the Wettbewerbszentrale”s legal action against what it claimed was misleading advertising was successful.

The LG Koblenz affirmed the view that what consumers understand by raw food is food that is fresh and has not been heated. The Court noted that a narrower understanding of the term limits its application to plant-based foods that have not been heated or which are entirely unprocessed. More broadly, a food item is deemed to be raw according to the LG Koblenz if it has neither been boiled, fried, roasted, nor baked, i.e., if it has not been heated.

The same could be said of terms such as “unrefined”, which the Court stated would also lead consumers to expect that food items labeled as such had not been heated beforehand. The LG Koblenz thus went on to conclude that the advertised coconut products were not raw food quality if the coconut meat had previously been heated. Accordingly, the advertising was found to be misleading and in breach of Art. 7 of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers and Section 11(1) of the German Food and Feed Code [Lebensmittel- und Futtermittelgesetzbuch, LFGB] (case ref.: 3 HK O 16/22).

Lawyers with experience in the field of competition law can advise on how to avoid warning notices, injunction suits, and claims for damages.


MTR Rechtsanwälte
Michael Rainer
Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer 83
50668 Cologne
Phone: +49 221 2927310
Fax: +49 221 29273155
E-Mail: info@mtrlegal.com
Url: https://www.mtrlegal.com/en/

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