The Competition Center of Bad Homberg (Germany) filed a lawsuit against the German brewery Lammsbräu selling a mineral water named “Biomineralwasser (organic mineral water). The Competition Center is of the opinion that the naming of the water is misleading for the consumer. The brewery advertises its water being extraordinary pure and untreated as well as exceeding to the legal quality standards. Lammsbräu also uses a self created quality-label which is quite similar to the official German organic-certificate.
According to Lammsbräu information the District Court of Nuremberg suggested an amicable solution to settle the dispute. The amicable solution shall comprise a visual differentiation between the official organic-certificate and the organic-label used by the company, an implementation of the sales name “natural mineral water with the labeling as well as a clarification that the organic-label is based on private initiative.
Whether the Courts suggestions will lead to an amicable solution depends on the negotiations between the parties. The Court will decide on the case on 19 January 2011, if the parties fail to reach an agreement.
In general advertising products as organic-products is a highly controversial topic in Germany. There is an official organic-certificate awarded by the German Ministry of Agriculture. Such products bearing the official organic-certificate must fulfill a number of requirements according to the EC Regulations on ecological agriculture. There are also a number of commercial eco- or organic-certificates or labels with different requirements on the origin and cultivation of the ingredients. The jungle of different certificates and labels sure makes it difficult for the consumer to understand what is behind it and whether it is trustworthy. The basic problem is that the term “organic or “eco is not protected and there is no general guideline to what the consumer may expect from organic-products or labels. There are many “organic farming groups trying to find standards for organic-labeling, but such standards certainly cannot be generalized.
What do you think, should an organic-labeling be governed only by EC-Regulations and equal standards or is the consumer well informed and critical enough to differentiate between different organic-labels?