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Unlawful advertising featuring health claims

Health claims in relation to food items must be supported by accepted scientific evidence. Otherwise, as was recently confirmed by the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Köln, the Higher Regional Court of Cologne, the advertising is unlawful.

According to the EU Health Claims Regulation, health claims in relation to food items are only lawful if they are backed by accepted scientific evidence. We at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that they are otherwise in breach of the Regulation and competition law.

This was confirmed by a ruling of the OLG Köln from June 21, 2019 (Az. 6 U 181/18). In the case in question, a food company had promoted a tea as having a positive impact on the ability to conceive. Among the claims made in the advertising was that the tea contained plant substances used in alternative medicine to promote ovulation, while other plant substances were said to be relaxing and act as an aphrodisiac.

The OLG Köln granted an injunction suit filed by a competition association, ruling that the advertising was to be understood as meaning that the tea alleviates problems that prevent conception and thus improves the chances of conceiving. The Court concluded, however, that the company had failed to furnish the necessary scientific evidence. 

Unlawful advertising can lead to legal sanctions. Lawyers experienced in competition law can offer advice.

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