EU officials could be prosecuted after falling foul of their own ruling that banned claims that drinking water could prevent dehydration.
By Donna Bowater
12:51PM GMT 21 Dec 2011
The EU was widely derided last month for the bizarre decision to prohibit drinks companies from claiming drinking water could help avoid dehydration.
Manufacturers face two years in jail for breaching the edict that was due to come into force this month after being passed in November.
But the EU could now be investigated after it emerged its Milk Programme was found to promote the health benefits of drinking water.
The literature for the scheme, which encourages children to drink more milk, said: “You may not have known, but a large part of milk is actually water. So, if you regularly drink milk, you can stay hydrated at the same time.
“When people do not get enough water, a condition called ‘dehydration’, they can become tired, irritable and have a hard time concentrating.
“Drinking milk can help put the necessary water back into the body, while providing carbohydrates, proteins and other nutrients to give you energy.”
A British MEP has called on the Procureur-General in Brussels to act on the blunder.
In his complaint, Paul Nuttall, Ukip member for North West England, said it was a “disgraceful breach of EU law by the European Commission.”
He added: “These people think that they can lay down the law that they have created no matter how absurd and threaten individuals and businesses with criminal sanctions.
“In this case, though, It appears that the EU just doesn’t know its backside from its elbow.”
The literature was believed to have been produced by the department for the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, led by Romanian politician Dacian Ciolos.
Denouncing the ruling last month, Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said: “This is stupidity writ large.
“The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are: highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious qualities of water and trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true.
“If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great European project then this is it.”
It also emerged earlier this month that the European Food Safety Authority had rules against claims that prunes had a laxative effect.
An EU spokesman said: “We have not been contacted by the prosecutor as yet, however, as we may be within a due legal process, we cannot comment in case it prejudices future proceedings.”
The Procureur-General’s office would not comment on the complaint but said it would be treated like any other.