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Ingredients and warnings on cosmetic packaging must be legible

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Ingredients and warnings on cosmetic packaging must be legible

The district court in Frankfurt am Main has decided that the warnings and the list of ingredients for cosmetic products may not be applied to the packaging in such a way that they are barely legible to the naked eye. According to the requirements of the EU Cosmetics Regulation, such information must be easily legible and clearly visible. Read more about the decision of the LG Frankfurt am Main in our article.

What happened?:

In the present case, the company Procter & Gamble, which mainly sells the hair shampoo “Head and Shoulders” on the German market, was warned by the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv).

The point of contention was the information on the packaging of the product “Head & Shoulders CLASSIC CLEAN”.

The Federal Association of Consumers complained that the information on the ingredients and the warnings were printed on a white sticker on the back of the aforementioned shampoo in dark blue font, but this information was provided in too small a font size (measured by the small letter “x”) .

The company Procter & Gamble argued in defense that the font size on the packaging sticker was 1.09 mm in relation to the small letter “x”.

Apart from the font size, according to the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband, the ingredients and the “warning notices” were not sufficiently legible, since the letters were so close together that they were difficult to decipher even in good lighting conditions.

According to the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations, the prescribed information was neither easily legible nor clearly visible within the meaning of Article 19 (1) of the Cosmetics Regulation.

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Article 19 paragraph 1 of the Cosmetics Regulation reads as follows:

“Labelling
Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Article, cosmetic products may be made available on the market only if the containers and packaging of cosmetic products bear the following information in indelible, easily legible and prominently visible form: (…) [Hervorhebungen durch den Zitierenden]”

Since the company did not issue a cease-and-desist declaration after the warning, the case ended up before the Frankfurt am Main Regional Court for a decision.

How did the LG Frankfurt am Main decide?

The Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main (judgment of February 24th, 2023, Az.: 2-06 O 240/22) agreed with the plaintiff Federal Association of Consumer Organizations and asserted a claim for injunctive relief under Section 8 Paragraph 1, Paragraph 3 No. 3 in conjunction with §3 Abs. 1, 3a UWG iVm Art. 19 Abs. 1 Kosmetik-VO an.

In the opinion of the Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main, there was a violation of Art. 19 Para. 1 Cosmetics Regulation, because according to the regulation, the mandatory information on the product packaging must be indelible, easily legible and clearly visible.

These terms refer primarily to the size, color, arrangement and background of the font. However, the Cosmetics Regulation does not specify a specific minimum font size for the information.

In the opinion of the court, there are no particularly high requirements for the size of the writing on cosmetic products, and the available space must also be used optimally. The mandatory information must be recognizable as such for a buyer.

The LG Frankfurt am Main used the specifications from the LMIV (Food Information Ordinance) in Art. 13 LMIV for health-related information as a point of reference for determining the necessary font size, according to which the letters are measured at the “x” height and at least 1, 2 mm for a packaging size of 80 cm².

Furthermore, the LG Frankfurt am Main referred to the assessments of the Medicines Advertising Act, which acknowledged that even a small typeface can be sufficient if the information as a whole can be read under normal visibility conditions without special concentration and effort.

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The requirements of “ease of reading” or “clear visibility” require that at least the majority of consumers/buyers decipher/respect the ingredients and warnings. can read well.

The court clarified that none of the requirements had been met.

Measured against the established specifications, the court denied a sufficiently large typeface, since it was smaller than 1.2mm (measured at the small “x”) on the product packaging at issue. In addition, the typeface was not legible even under normal visibility conditions without special concentration and effort, since the list of ingredients had a narrow typeface with the letters pushed together.

The court also emphasized that the writing was dark blue on a white background and that the writing was designed in a way that made it just about possible to decipher it in some cases (however, this was no longer possible in some cases).

Conclusion:

What can be said is that cosmetic products are subject to the specifications of the Cosmetics Ordinance and address special requirements for the manufacturer.

With regard to the specifications for ingredients and warnings, the following points should be observed for cosmetic products (in accordance with the case law of the LG Frankfurt am Main):

Packaging design: The font size of the mandatory information on the packaging should be large enough to be easily legible and clearly visible. Although there is no specific minimum font size required, the information should be legible to the buyer. In principle, it is advisable to choose legible font and an appropriate font size of at least 1.2 mm. Space optimization: The space available on the packaging should be used optimally to accommodate the required information in an appropriate size. It is important to ensure that the writing is legible despite the limited space. Legibility under normal viewing conditions: The information should be legible under normal viewing conditions without special concentration or effort. This means that the majority of consumers should be able to read the information with ease. Color contrasts: Care should be taken to ensure that the font color and background are of sufficient contrast to improve legibility. Avoid combinations where the font is difficult to see because of the color contrast.

The IT law firm provides detailed information on the legal requirements that must be observed when selling cosmetics available in this guide.

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