Foodwatch: fraudulent label with the lust for the country

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Foodwatch denounces "fraudulent labeling of the food industry"

The food industry is trying to respond to people's new bio-consciousness and is increasingly marketing product series with different attributes such as "fresh from the country", "original enjoyment" or "country lust". But often the marketing slogans hide only "nasty industrial products", as the non-profit consumer association "Foodwatch e.V." criticizes. Instead of rural organic products, only flavorings are contained. In a current statement, consumer advocates criticize the manufacturer "teapot". The fruit tea called "Landlust Mirabelle & Birne" contains flavorings, hardly any pears and no mirabelle plums.

Alleged landmarks with cheap ingredients and flavorings
The majority of consumers are increasingly paying attention to healthy and natural foods. They no longer want to consume chemically or industrially manufactured high-tech products, but instead eat regional foods and thus do their part in protecting the environment. The consumer advocate of the organization "Foodwatch" took a closer look at the goods advertised in various studies and came to the conclusion that many manufacturers have hardly changed the ingredients, but have adapted their advertising practices to the consumer wishes. "Industrial products are advertised as original, natural food," criticizes Oliver Huizinga from Foodwatch. Behind the Land Bockwurst sausages, country coffee varieties or Landlust teas there are many food products made from inexpensive ingredients and flavorings. Nevertheless, horrendous surcharges are sometimes demanded, even though they are not natural products or even organic goods. In this context, Foodwatch speaks of deliberate consumer deception.

Landlust tea mirabelles & pear without mirabelles
The testers noticed the fruit tea from "Landlust Mirabelle & Birne" from the manufacturer "Teekanne" as a particularly "brazen case of label fraud". According to Foodwatch, the main ingredients of the type of tea, as with comparable products, are only "cheap standard ingredients such as apples, hibiscus and rose hip". Although "pear" is mentioned in the product name, tea contains only eight percent of the fruit and even ranks fourth on the list of ingredients. Despite the product slogan, mirables are not included at all. In an advertising slogan, the manufacturer propagates: "Enjoy a short trip to the countryside and discover the original enjoyment of familiar fruits that can still ripen in peace." In fact, the mirabelles could "ripen in peace", says the Foodwatch expert. Because the fruit "is not in the tea". In order to imitate the taste, "undefined natural flavors are used". If you look closely, “Landlust Mirabelle & Birne” is a “completely normal, flavored industrial fruit tea”. Only significantly more expensive, according to the devastating criticism of the consumer organization. Teapot requires four euros per 100 grams for the product. That is three times what other no-name fruit tea producers demand. "It's tailoring," says Huizinga.

Manufacturer disagrees with the representation of Foodwatch
The "Teapot" group, on the other hand, explained that not enough mirabelles and pears in dry form could be used in a tea bag to develop the desired aroma in a tea infusion. The company therefore uses natural flavors to produce a "full-bodied taste". In addition, all ingredients are listed on the packaging so that the consumer can get enough information. Therefore, according to the teapot, there was no “label fraud”. In September 2010, Teapot had explained that the "full-bodied, natural ingredients" of the Landlust teas "are a very special enjoyment experience - like from a rural garden". That is why they rely on an "original taste of familiar fruits and herbs that ripen in peace and can develop their full aroma".

Images on the label only need to show the flavor
Large areas are illustrated with mirabelles and pears on the tea packaging. "Unfortunately, this is permitted by the authorities," complains the Foodwatch spokesman. The Federal Ministry of Food's Food Book Commission approves images of types of fruit, although these are hardly or not at all included in the tea. In the "Guideline for flavored tea-like products", the brand name and illustration should only reflect the "taste". This means that only flavoring substances can be used. This is "state-authorized consumer deception" Foodwatch emphasizes and therefore calls for an immediate change in the guideline. This is likely to be difficult, as the food industry lobby is known to be quite strong and also shows its influence at EU level.

Foodwatch relies on education and protest emails
This example is just one of many for consumer advocates. This is why the "Fed" campaign was launched to combat consumer deception and advertising lies by food manufacturers. The campaign focuses on educating consumers, who in turn should send complaints to companies. In the case presented, Foodwatch is protesting: consumers should take action themselves and complain about the teapot. "Can such a rethink of the producers be achieved?" Foodwatch was often successful and many manufacturers gave in. After all, negative reports are bad for the image and thus also for the sales figures. (sb)

Read on:
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