17/06/2017 (The Star Online) - PETALING JAYA: A Belgian Court of Appeal in Brussels has made a landmark ruling that ‘No Palm Oil’ labels and similar claims are misleading and without merit.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong (pic) hailed the court’s decision recently in a case brought by Ferrero, an Italian producer of branded chocolate spread and confectionary.
“The ruling has been brought to the attention of the European Parliamentarians.
“A series of important engagements were carried out during Malaysia’s Special Mission of Palm Oil to European Parliament, Strasbourg earlier this week,” Mah said in a statement yesterday.
Mah was in Rome, Italy on a two-day mission to promote Malaysian commodities, especially palm oil, through business linkages between government and private sectors in Italy.
He commended Ferrero for pursuing the appeal against Belgian supermarket chain, Delhaize, despite facing an initial unfavourable ruling in 2013.
The case centred around Delhaize’s advertisement campaign with regard to Nutella’s ‘choco’ spread which was claimed to be without palm oil and featured prominently on its packaging.
The labelling claimed that a product without palm oil had better nutritional qualities than one containing palm oil.
“The Court of Appeal ruled the supermarket chain was misleading its customers when it made wild and inaccurate allegations about palm oil, including on the labels of its own palm oil-free products,” he said.
He said the court noted that Delhaize’s allegations about palm oil were “unverifiable, unsubstantiated by fact-based claims and therefore not objective” in relation to both environmental and health allegations.
Mah said that the court also ordered the supermarket chain to stop making such illegal and unjust claims against palm oil or they could face a maximum fine of RM4.77mil (one million euro).
Mah also acknowledged it was a challenge for the palm oil industry to set the record straight given the widespread use of the labels on almost 1,600 products throughout Europe.
Lauding the Italian government’s support of sustainable oil palm cultivation by signing the Amsterdam Declaration 2015, Mah said Malaysia would adhere to its own sustainability commitment towards Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) Certification Standard by 2020.
Apart from roundtable meetings with Ferrero and Italian Alliance of Sustainable Palm Oil (IASPO), Mah held bilateral meetings with Italian Undersecretary of Environment Barbara Degani and Undersecretary of Ministry of Economic Development Ivan Scalfarotto.