Italy has broken EU regulations on labelling chocolate, a court in Luxembourg ruled today (25 November).

The European Court of Justice has ruled that consumers in Italy are being misled by local legislation that allows confectioners to use the phrase “pure chocolate” on labels.

The European Commission decided to take Italy to the EU’s highest court in 2008 when it argued that the country had failed to change its rules to meet EU laws that harmonise sales names for cocoa and chocolate across the bloc.

Under EU law, products that contain up to 5% of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter can be labelled as chocolate.

The Commission argued that the phrase “pure chocolate” added a sales category to the sector that violated EU rules.

“The Commission brought infringement proceedings against Italy before the Court of Justice, claiming that Italy has introduced an additional sales name for chocolate products, depending on whether they can be regarded as ‘pure’ or not, which constitutes an infringement of the directive and conflicts with the case-law of the Court,” the ECJ said today.

“According to the Commission, the consumer must be informed whether or not substitute vegetable fats are present in the chocolate through the labelling and not through the use of a separate sales name.”

Italian confectioners can add a label to their chocolate to show their products consist of pure cocoa butter and not vegetable fats, the court said.