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Extra light tries to avoid trouble by going lighter.

Flora Extra Light has been renamed Flora Lighter Than Light in a bid to circumvent new EU food labelling rules--but lawyers warn the move may not be enough to stave off litigation.

From 19 January, a new annex on health claims in the Health & Nutrition Claims Regulation will come into force, barring the use of claims such as 'no added salt' and 'extra light'.

Unilever has attempted to get around this by replacing Flora Extra Light -one of the bestselling affected products--with the slightly cheeky-sounding Flora Lighter Than Light.

"We made the change because of the new annex," said a Unilever spokesman. "We chose the name Flora Lighter Than Light because it was the name that received the most positive response from consumers during research. The new name complies with current legislation--if that situation were to change, we would of course take action accordingly."


However, a leading lawyer warned that even the new packaging could fall foul of the stringent EU regulations. The new rules govern claims that consumers may interpret as health messages, explained Eversheds associate Katharine Vickery. 'Lighter than light' could be interpreted as synonymous with 'extra light', she warned.

"I'll be surprised if they get away with this one," she said. "There'll be an initial period of indulgence to give businesses a chance to comply with the new rules, but this is typically followed by a spate of prosecutions aimed at getting the message across.

"Prosecutors like to pick a high-profile target likely to get press coverage, and a contested case--as this one would be likely to be -serves to help clarify the limits of the law."

Local Trading Standards officials were also able to use the regulations, and so could themselves initiate action, she added. "Food manufacturers are going to have to adjust to the fact we're living in a strictly regulated new world now."

Kraft told The Grocer it would keep using the name Extra Light Philadelphia on its 5% fat soft cheese. "We are confident it complies with legislation," said a spokesman.
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Title Annotation:PRODUCTS
Author:Ball, James
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 19, 2009
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