Foodwatch is well known at the Advertising Code Commission (Reclame Code Commissie, "ACC"). The food watchdog submits complaints about food advertising with some regularity. This time, it was the turn of the packing on M&M's Peanut & Hazelnut. The food rules confirm that the quantities of ingredients have to be mentioned if the ingredient appears in the product's name or is otherwise conspicuous on the label. The idea behind this is that if you flaunt the presence of an ingredient, it's important for the consumer to know how much of the ingredient has been used. We call this a QUID (quantitative ingredient declaration). It's not a very widely-known rule for packaging, but it's an important one. This percentage can often be found in the list of ingredients. The label for this product didn't mention the quantity of peanuts and hazelnuts, however. A good enough reason for Foodwatch to put in its complaint.
Mars (which manufactures M&M's) filed a defence: the list of ingredients was surely factual information and not advertising? The chair of the ACC wasn't nuts about that argument: packaging is advertising too. And because the name and the packaging referred to peanuts and hazelnuts, the quantities of these ingredients should indeed have been stated. In breach of the labelling regulation and therefore the law, said the chair. But Mars wasn't given any recommendation, due to an extensive apologia. The mistake apparently arose because this was a limited edition, sold through just a select group of retailers. Also, the product had virtually vanished off the shelves and Mars promised that it would seek help in the future to stay within the law. This factor led to disposal of the complaint with a frosty frown for Mars.
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