The Bundesrat (upper house of the German parliament) approved the Ordinance on the Accreditation of Inspection Bodies pursuant to the German Organic Farming Act (Öko-Landbau-Gesetz-Kontrollstellen-Zulassungsverordnung) on 30 March 2012. This has paved the way towards the future application of Germany-wide control standards in the growing German market for organic food, which is inter alia intended to improve the quality and efficiency of controls regarding organic foodstuffs.
The ordinance stipulates minimum requirements for the private inspection bodies for organic farming which are officially accredited. It further regulates the mutual exchange of information and sets provisions for the taking of samples. Furthermore, cross-company monitoring of the flow of goods will be implemented, which is intended to prevent dishonest intentions and acts, particularly such intentions and acts attempting to bring non-organic produce into the flow of organic goods. For this purpose, the inspection bodies shall monitor the products over several stages of the production chain in order to assess their organic authenticity.
Regional Court of Cologne: The name “Frischfisch” (“FreshFish”) constitutes misleading advertising
In its decision of 17 November 2011 (file reference: 31 O 264/11), the Regional Court of Cologne found the advertising a supermarket chain operator used for fish products to be misleading. The action was brought to court by an association for the promotion of fair competition. The defendant had been selling its fish products inter alia using the names “FRISCH&FERTIG” (“FRESH&READY”), “FANG&FRISCH” (“CATCH&FRESH”), “Absolute Frische bei sofortigem Genuss” (“Absolute freshness for immediate enjoyment”) and “Frischfisch” (“FreshFish”).
The court found that the statement “FRESH&READY” was regarded by the consumer as a description of the product contained in the packaging and led the consumer to assume that the fish is both fresh and ready to serve. This was, however, not the case as the fish had been preserved for consumption using industrial methods involving preservatives (sodium lactate and sodium diacetate) and was hence no longer fresh. According to the court, the same applies to the statement “Absolute freshness for immediate enjoyment” and the name “FreshFish” in the ingredients list, which would also suggest to the consumer that the fish is fresh. In the opinion of the Regional Court of Cologne, the use of preservatives conflicts with this statement. After all, the consumer would not see the names “FRESH&READY” and “CATCH&FRESH” as brand names but would understand them as referring to the characteristics of the fish. In this respect, the court also considered it misleading that the fish was indeed not “freshly caught”, but was actually treated and preserved by cooling to withstand shipping (from Vietnam).