Eataly fined €50k over wine labels

Upmarket Italian supermarket chain Eataly has been fined €50,000 after Italy’s antitrust association (AGCM) ruled labelling in relation to wines containing sulphites was “highly misleading”.

ID2041_Eataly_Smeraldo

Eataly in Milan

Between April 2014 and January 2016 the food supermarket is reported to have sold wines at its stores in Italy that were marked with a sticker carrying the term ‘vino libero’, which literally translates as “free wine”, according to reports by The Local.

The stickers were intended to indicate that these wines that were free from pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. However crucially, the wines marked “free” were not totally free from sulphites. Instead, they contained reduced levels of the preservative used in winemaking, 40% lower than the maximum level set by the EU. This ambiguity was therefore deemed “highly misleading” to consumers by the ACGM, which investigated following a complaint by Italian consumer rights organisation Codacons.

The AGCM fined the group €50,000 and ordered the labels to be changed to include the caveat “contains at least forty percent less sulphites than the legal limit”.

Eataly was founded in 2007 by Italian businessman Oscar Farinetti, who converted a closed vermouth factory in Turin into the chain’s first location. Since then, the high-end Italian supermarket chain has spawned several outlets worldwide, including New York, Chicago, Tokyo and Dubai.

The 50,000 square foot Eataly in New York is owned by celebrity chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich.

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