The battle for labeling continues in the food industry

In mid-February, the sleuths of the repression of fraud landed in the Parisian premises of Yuka. The start-up, to which we owe a mobile application noting the nutritional quality of industrial products, knows it: its reviews, acclaimed by 15 million French people, including 6 million regular users, are not always to the liking of companies. agrifood. The carrot, Yuka’s emblem, sometimes remains through their throats.

“The investigation by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control [DGCCRF] seems to have been launched following the intervention of certain manufacturers. But we don’t know which ones ”, says Julie Chapon, co-founder of the start-up. She adds : “The controllers went through everything, they were looking for a loophole. “ According to our information, Yuka was not alone in the sights. The DGCCRF has launched its nets on other organizations that have also created mobile applications deciphering the nutritional profile of foods, to validate the reliability of the ratings, such as QuelProduit, the application launched at the end of 2020 by the consumer association. UFC-What to choose.

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An episode that illustrates the difficult fight to lift the veil on the kitchens of the food industry, eager to keep its trade secrets. In this long-running soap opera, another twist was widely publicized: the battle between, in court, Yuka and the meat industry. The start-up has, in fact, received a triple salvo of artillery launched by the French Federation of industrial butchers caterers (FICT) on the one hand, and by two companies belonging to the vice-president of this professional union, Antoine d ‘ Espous, on the other hand.

“Acts of disparagement”

At the heart of the conflict: the presence of nitrite additives in hams and other sausages. Additives controversial for their presumed effect on health, but appreciated by manufacturers for the rosy touch they bring to cold meats and for the extension of use-by dates. At first instance, the FICT obtained, at the end of May, from the Paris Commercial Court the conviction of Yuka to remove the link made in the application between each charcuterie product and an opinion from the World Health Organization evoking the risks. carcinogens of the consumption of processed meat, accompanied by a petition launched jointly by the start-up, Foodwatch and the League against cancer, calling for the ban of nitrite additives. The court also imposed a fine of 20,000 euros on him for “acts of disparagement”. The companies of Mr. Espous are claiming, for their part, more than one million euros in damages.

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