Between April 2014 and January 2016 the food supermarket which is renowned for its high-end Italian food and drink, sold wines which were marked with an ambiguous sticker marking them as ‘vino libero’.
‘Vino libero’ (literally translating as free wine) stickers were used on wines free from chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
But the wines in question were not free from sulphites, chemical compounds of sulphur and oxygen, which are used as preservatives in wine-making. A fact which Italian consumer rights organization, Codacons, said took advantage of shoppers when it brought the case to the attention of the antitrust organization last year. Although the wines sold as ‘free’ did contain a reduced level of sulphites (at least forty percent lower than the maximum level set by the EU), the AGCM ruled the stickers were ‘highly misleading’.
“The labels cause customers to assume embellished bottles are completely free from sulphites,” they said in their ruling.
In addition to hitting the posh supermarket with a fine, they also ordered that the labels be changed to include the caveat “contains at least forty percent less sulphites than the legal limit.”