New EU wine ruling not easily digestible

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EU wine label health rule

The ECJ has ruled a German wine maker must change its labels after “health claims” were printed on them.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled the description “easily digestible” printed on certain wines from Germany is illegal. Deutsches Weintor, a wine-growers’ cooperative based in Germany has been marketing its wines which use a certain grape as “easily digestible”.

EU law prohibits all health claims on advertising for beverages containing more than 1.2% by volume of alcohol. This law aims to protect the health of consumers whose consumption habits may be affected by positive health claims.

The wine’s label states, ‘It owes its mildness to the application of our special “LO3” protective process for the biological reduction of acidity’. In the ruling, the ECJ answered the prohibition covers the description ‘easily digestible’, accompanied by a reference to the reduced content of substances frequently perceived by consumers as being harmful.

This description, which suggests the wine is readily absorbed and digested, implies the digestive system will not suffer or suffer little after repeated consumption. This can be put down to the reduced acidity of the wine. This could suggest this wine is a healthier long-term option than other, more acidic, wines. This is the grounds on which the ECJ ruled the label contained a prohibited health claim.

The Court noted that all packaging and advertising related to alcoholic beverages must be completely unambiguous. This is to ensure consumers are not swayed by health claims and are able to regulate their intake and in doing so protect their health.