Woman loses bid to make candycompany pay for liquorice habit
20 April 2004
BONN – A court in Germany has rejected a lawsuit by a woman who said a major confectionery company should pay compensatory damages after she developed a heart condition because she could not lick her liquorice habit.
In a case that has sparked a national debate in Germany, the Berlin resident demanded about EUR 10,000 in damages from the Bonn-based Haribo corporation, saying the company’s salty-sweet liquorice sweets contributed to her medical condition.
The 48-year-old woman, identified only as Margit K., said she collapsed and was rushed to hospital with an erratic heartbeat after she had consumed 400 grams of Haribo brand Matador assorted liquorice treats daily over a four-month period.
She said she required six months of medical care, during which time she was unable to work.
But the court in Bonn ruled in favour of Haribo, saying the plaintiff had been unable to prove that the company’s product was to blame for her medical condition.
The plaintiff had alleged Haribo should have warned consumers of the potential hazards of over-indulgence in liquorice.
Derived from liquorice root, liquorice sweets contain glycyrrhizine which, in large quantities over a long time, can lead to water retention with a loss of potassium and sodium.
Longterm imbalances of those trace elements can in some cases exacerbate a predisposition to high blood pressure or irregular heartbeat.
Haribo, best known as the manufacturer of PEZ candies and fruit gum Gummi Bears, marketed in some countries as Golden Bears, argued that the civil lawsuit was frivolous.
The company said the plaintiff was unable to prove any direct cause-and-effect link between its product and her medical condition.
“Anyone who believes they could possibly win this case must be a little off,” Haribo legal consultant Ulrich Preusser said. “Our liquorice sweets are acknowledged to be absolutely premium products of the highest quality.”
Haribo said the glycyrrhizine content of its liquorice candies was between 0.08 and 0.18 percent, and thus below the legal maximum of 0.2 percent which would require a health warning.
Subject: German news