Packaging Innovation
deceptive packaging
March 22, 2017

‘Deceptive’ packaging: can you show ingredients that aren’t included?

Designing packaging for children’s products can be great fun, but it is not without challenges – especially when it comes to food packaging. Danone experienced that first-hand with its packaging for Danonino yogurt, which recently came under fire in France. Foodwatch, a non-profit organisation that, to put it in their own words, “exposes food-industry practices that are not in the interests of consumers”, claims the Danonino packaging is misleading because it features images of fruits when the yogurt in fact does not contain any fruit whatsoever. Evidently, misleading the consumer is forbidden by European regulations, and by French laws to boot. Danone, however, says its packaging is not misleading at all.

Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

In a response letter to foodwatch, Danone admitted that its Danonino yogurt does not contain any fruit. Still, the company emphasizes that the packaging in question is not misleading as its graphics serve to inform the consumer of the flavors (strawberry, raspberry, peach, banana and apricot) and not the exact ingredients that create the flavors – which remain secret to this date. Danone also refers to the word ‘flavor’ which is clearly mentioned on the packaging as well as a list of ingredients which does not mention fruit.

7,000 signatures

Unsatisfied with Danone’s response, foodwatch launched a petition that calls for the company to either adapt the graphics on the Danonino packaging or include real fruit in the product. The petition has reached nearly 7,000 signatures as we speak.

Deceptive packaging: what’s in an image?

One can’t help but notice similarities between the Danonino case and a case concerning German fruit tea which appeared before the European Court of Justice in 2015. While the tea did not contain fruit, its packaging did feature raspberries, strawberries and the like. The Court stated that “if food or drink packaging contains images of ingredients that are not in the food or drink product itself this will likely mislead consumers and thus fall foul of EU law.” However, since the European Court referred the case back to the German courts, it remains unclear whether drawings of flavors are to be considered misleading in other countries.   Inspired by Dairy Reporter