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Case detail



Directive article Article 5 2.
Article 5 4.
Article 6 1.
National ID PS649
Country Italy Decision date 29/04/2009
Common name PRO-ACTIV AIUTA A RIDURRE IL COLESTEROLO Decision type Administrative decision, first degree
Court Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (Rome) Plaintiff(s) Italian Competition Authority
Court translation Italian Competition Authority Defendant(s) Unilever Italia S.r.l.
Subject misleading commercial practices
Keywords health and safetyinaccurate informationmisleading advertisingmisleading commercial practicesproduct marketingprofessional diligence

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Headnote

(1) It is an unfair commercial practice to provide inaccurate information on a food product's alleged healthy and therapeutic properties in an advertisement. 

(2) Given their special function and properties, food products require a higher degree of professional diligence.

Facts

Further to the promotion of specific food products (Proactive) in the Italian newspaper "La Repubblica" on 15 February 2008, and further to the request for information to Unilever Italia S.r.l. on 21 February 2008, the Italian Competition Authority started its investigation proceedings against Unilever Italia S.r.l. for an alleged unfair commercial practice.

The commercial practice investigated by the Authority included a large advertising campaign for food products (Proactive), where inaccurate information was provided regarding the specific cases where alleged healthy and therapeutic properties would apply.

Since the practice had been carried out also by using press, radio and internet website, the opinion of the Italian Communication Authority was requested on 30 March 2009.

Legal issue

Does an advertisement for food products in which consumers are provided with inaccurate information on the specific cases of alleged healthy and therapeutic properties, constitute an unfair commercial practice?

Decision

The Italian Competition Authority decided that providing consumers with inaccurate information on a food product's healthy and therapeutic properties, constitutes an unfair commercial practice and, in particular, a misleading advertising, as it is able to influence the transactional decision of particularly vulnerable consumers (in this case, particularly women between 40 and 60 years, to whom the advertisement was addressed).

The practice is also contrary to the requirement of professional diligence, as it does not comply with the normal degree of competence and attention as set forth by Article 5 of the UCP Directive. Given the special function and properties of food products, in such cases a higher degree of professional diligence is required than in other cases.

  URL Decision Decision full text
EN N/A
IT http://www.agcm.it/agcm_ita/DSAP/Dsap_pi.nsf/a0d111d6626f957fc125652a00315873/54272354f711cbdfc12575ca003c221f?OpenDocument&Highlight=2,PS649

Result

The Italian Competition Authority decided to fine Unilever Italia S.r.l. for an amount equal to 100.000 EUR.

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