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French customs destroy 34,499 bottles of counterfeit champagne

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French customs have destroyed thousands of plastic bottles illegally labeled “Couronne Fruit Champagne”.

Customs officers in Le Havre destroyed nearly 35,000 plastic bottles containing the bright orange liquid, initially seized in October 2021. These bottles contravene the regulations for Protected Designations of Origin (PDO).

According to the press release issued by French customs, the bottles originating from Haiti and seized in the port of Le Havre, were intended for sale on the French market, despite very strict regulations on AOP Champagne: only sparkling wines from the Champagne region could bear this label.

It took about a year to destroy these bottles. On October 11, 2022, the Paris Court of Justice ruled that the marketing of said bottles “is likely to undermine AOP Champagne” and ordered the entire stock to be destroyed. Champagne is one of the few products in the world that benefits from an official appellation, which is protected by the French system of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, known as AOC.

French customs ensure that counterfeit food and alcoholic beverages do not reach the market. In 2021 alone, they removed 200,517 counterfeit products from the market. Last month in Belgium, authorities destroyed more than 2,000 cans of Miller High Life after finding that the use of the phrase “Champagne of Beers,” appearing on the cans, violated the Champagne PDO.

Champagne is not the only product that benefits from protection within the European Union. A number of cheeses, including Italian Parmesan and British blue stilton, are protected by similar rules. For more than 20 years, Greek feta has also been protected: cheese has to be from Greece to be called “feta.”

According to the Champagne Commission, 121 countries recognize and protect the Champagne label.

Editor’s note: A Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) guarantees that a product has been processed and produced in a specified geographic area. The AOP mark is a European mark. The product name is protected throughout the European Union. The French version of AOP is AOC (Denomination of Origin Controlled).

Translated article from the American magazine Forbes – Author: Anna Fajoy

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