France Seizes & Dumps 35,000 Bottles of Soda Labeled as "Champagne"
There are a myriad of sparkling wines available across the world, but only select varieties can call themselves "champagne." That's because France is acutely protective of the drink's heritage and excellence standards and strictly regulates the moniker so that it can only be used in reference to sparkling wines produced in its Champagne region. So it should come as no surprise that when French authorities spotted a massive shipment of bright orange sodas from Haiti labeled as "Couronne Fruit Champagne," the crackdown was swift and fierce.
France's customs service announced last week that it was destroying 34,499 bottles of the soda drinks, which were intended for sale in France. Officials seized them back in 2021 after spotting "champagne" on the label, and the Paris Court of Justice ordered the soda bottles to be destroyed in October 2022.
This was after the court ruled that allowing the soda to market itself as champagne would likely violate France's formal designation under the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system, which regulates the use of the name in the European Union. There are just a few other products in the world protected by formal designations stipulating that they can only come from certain geographical areas, including Greek feta cheese and Italian parmesan cheese, Forbes reported.
Popular American beer brand Miller High Life, which has long marketed itself as the "Champagne of Beers," has also come under scrutiny for the same reason as those destroyed sodas.
In February, Belgian customs authorities intercepted a shipment of Miller High Life in the port city of Antwerp. The Comité Champagne, a French trade organization that represents champagne producers and defends the AOC designation, called for the destruction of the beer shipment and Belgium complied. Authorities ended up dumping 2,352 cans of the beer.
Charles Goemaere, managing director of the Comité Champagne, said in a statement in April that destroying those cans "confirms the importance that the European Union attaches to designations of origin and rewards the determination of the Champagne producers to protect their designation."
Drinks falsely touting themselves as champagne are not the only products that have recently caught the eye of authorities. After the popularity of Fruit Roll-Ups skyrocketed earlier this year thanks to a viral TikTok trend involving ice cream, Israeli authorities seized more than 1,000 pounds of the fruity, sugary snack in several smuggling crackdowns.