Online and Mail-Order Sellers Must Obtain Organic Permits, ECJ Rules
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that all online and mail-order sellers of organic products—including small producers and sellers that would otherwise be exempt from the requirements—must obtain sales permits to avoid fraud and mislabeling and maintain “consumer confidence” in products labeled as organic. Kamin und Grill Shop GmbH v. Zentrale zur Bekampfung unlauteren Wettbewerbs eV, No. C-289/16 (ECJ, entered October 12, 2017). Kamin, a mail-order and internet business, began marketing spice mixes in 2012 that it labeled as organic. A German consumer advocacy group challenged the sales, and the German Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice) referred the case to ECJ. The court found that in the case of online or mail-order retail sales, product storage and delivery by intermediaries created a risk of re-labeling, exchange or contamination so the “direct” sales exemption for small, face-to-face sellers should not be construed broadly.