Wednesday, 29 September 2010

EU accused over changes to chocolate wrappers

Is it news when a few words are changed on the packaging of a chocolate bar?

Apparently so, because the BBC, Mail, Sun and others have all reported that Cadbury have removed the words 'glass and a half' from its Dairy Milk wrappers.

But, according to these reports, it's not just a decision Cadbury have taken - it has been 'forced' on them by (you guessed it) the EU. Here's the Mail's headline:

Yet an earlier Mail article, on the same subject but without the focus on the EU, had a rather different headline:

The articles all quote a Cadbury spokesman who says:

"Because EU regulations state that by 2010 all weights and measures on packs must be in metric, given our long run times we felt it was sensible to make that change."

But he also makes clear that the slogan has not been 'dropped' or 'axed' - it will still be used in advertising and the image of a 'glass and a half' of milk pouring into the Dairy Milk will still adorn the wrapper.

Moreover, the articles then quote Andy Foster from the Trading Standards Institute, who says the EU rules don't apply:

"The Cadbury slogan is well known by consumers and should not be confused or caught up with food labelling laws."

He said the slogan was not part of the ingredients list, and so was not affected by rules regarding food labelling.

"Therefore the Trading Standards Institute would have no objection to the continued use of the famous slogan unless it was considered misleading by consumers," he said.

So why are some of these journalists and headline writers trying to imply something different at the start of their articles, when that is contradicted later in the same article?

Perhaps a clue to why the words were actually removed from the back of the wrapper is in another thing the Cadbury spokesman says:

'It was a bit ridiculous to have it there, as we don’t sell half pound bars any more – they are 200 grams.'

The more cynical might remember that on Monday, the papers reported that Cadbury had ditched the idea of using cardboard containers for Roses and so the usual tins would remain.

Together, these two stories have given Cadbury a lot of free publicity, with lots of pics of their products in lots of newspapers.

How convenient.

(While writing the above, Minority Thought has published a post on the same subject)

UPDATE: The European Commission Representation in the UK have written the following letter to the Mail:

Your headline “EU forces Cadbury to axe its glass and a half slogan” is completely inaccurate. EU measurement regulations have in no way, shape or form forced Cadbury to drop its famous phrase. Indeed, it is clear from Mr Poulter’s article that Cadbury have made this decision of their own volition but perhaps on poor advice.

Under EU legislation, imperial measurements in the UK are protected and can continue to be displayed indefinitely alongside their metric equivalent. The great British pound, pint, mile etc is here to stay.


  1. I don't see why you're adding the BBC article - they're pretty cynical about the whole deal too. Besides, this article itself exists on the same "I don't believe in it but I'll still advertise them!" plane of existence!

  2. Ollie - The BBC was included because they bothered to write about it - as 'business news' - at all. But having said that, the BBC's first paragraph is:

    Cadbury has removed the famous phrase "glass and a half" from its Dairy Milk bars after 80 years, having been told it contravenes European regulations.

    The Mail's first paragraph:

    Cadbury has removed the famous phrase 'glass and a half' from its Dairy Milk bars following claims it failed to comply with EU metrication rules.

    Not much difference there.

    Of course, there's always the danger that your second accusation could be levelled having written about the subject. However, I can say with absolute confidence that they won't be getting much publicity from being mentioned on this blog!


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