Tahiti Noni fruit juice

(misleading of consumers)

The Competition Council found that the following 6 undertakings:Veximp Kft, Prospero Egyéni Cég, Dr. Kiss Istvánné individual entrepreneur, Gaál és Sziklás Kft, Volumen Kft and HMV Szervező és Tanácsadó Bt misled the consumers by stating that the fruit juice distributed by them is suitable for preserving and restoring health, though the said product had not been examined by the competent authorities.

The Competition Council obliged the defending parties to make an announcement in two nation-wide dailies that Tahiti Noni was not a pharmaceutical, curative product, herb or anything like this because it had an approval of distribution only as a fruit juice. The Competition Council imposed on the defending parties a fine of HUF 1.000.000 in total.

The Tahiti Noni fruit juice is composed of noni juice (89 %) and other fruit juices (11 %). Noni is a plant to be found mostly on the islands of the Southern Pacific, used for ages in the traditional therapies.

The assumed curative effect of noni became widely known in North America during the recent years and several articles and other publications dealing with the issue appeared.

The competent authorities examined the product only as a fruit juice. The producer of the Tahiti noni fruit juice is Morinda Inc (USA) and Tropical Express Company is entrusted with the international distribution organized through the internet.

In the leaflets with the title "NONI. Morinda citrifolia. The gift of the tropics to preserve and restore health.", used in the distribution the following can be read:

"Noni is not a medicine, is not to be used for therapy, everybody uses it at their own risk as a supplement of alimentation. Noni intensifies the self-curative processes of the organism but does not serve as a substitute for medical treatment. If you are ill, ask for the help of your physician."

The defending parties acknowledged the infringement and expressed their intention to terminate it.

According to the Competition Act, it shall be prohibited to deceive consumers in economic competition. Deception of consumers shall be presumed, in particular, if false declarations are made or facts are declared in a manner which is likely to deceive with respect to prices or essential features of the goods, including, in particular, the composition, use, effects on health or the environment, as well as their handling, origin or place of origin, source or method of the procurement; if the designation of goods is likely to deceive; or if any other information which is likely to deceive pertaining to the essential features of the goods is disseminated;

Concerning the Tahiti noni fruit juice, the favourable effect of the product on the health is regarded as an essential feature of it. The defending parties in order to influence the consumers` decision when considering to buy the product stated expressly these favourable features although they had no official position based on an objective, authentic opinion of an expert regarding these effects.

Some of the advertising leaflets tried to make Tahiti noni appear to be a herb or a supplement of alimentation. In both of these cases the distributor would have had to apply for an examination of the product by the competent authority. Due to the fact that the defending parties failed to make these processes they infringed Article 8 of the Competition Act by misleading the consumers.

November 27, 2001. Budapest

dr. Zavodnyik József sk.
dr. Köbli József sk.
Vérné dr. Labát Éva sk.
Horváth Lászlóné