A bottle of orange drink with a label 'Fruit champagne'Image source, Twitter/Douane France

By Antoinette Radford

BBC News

French border police have destroyed nearly 35,000 bottles of a soda drink that called itself champagne.

Customs officials in the northern port of Le Havre said the bottles originated from Haiti, and contained a "bright orange liquid".

They were seized in October 2021 after customs noticed their label "Couronne Fruit Champagne".

Only sparkling wine products from the French Champagne region can use the title.

The name is designated under France's Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system, which is supposed to give them exclusive use of the word in countries that follow EU laws on distinctive geographical indications.

There are currently more than 121 countries that follow the ruling on the use of the name, according to the Champagne trade association.

Greek Feta, Italian Parmesan and British Stilton blue cheese are also protected by such rules.

French customs said the bottles of the orange drink were intended for sale on the French market.

In October 2022, a Parisian court ruled the bottles should be destroyed as they infringed the AOC regulation.

Image source, Twitter/Douane France

Charles Goemaere, director-general of the Champagne Committee said their destruction enforced the importance of the regulation.

"This kind of use contributes to weakening the reputation of the appellation," he said. "The fight against the abuse of the Champagne name started in 1844 and hasn't stopped since."

Prior to being seized for infringement on the Champagne title, the same product had been subject to an investigation by France's Directorate for Competition, Consumption and the Repression of Fraud.

It was recalled due to an excessive amount of benzoic acid - a common preservative used in food and drinks.

But the destruction of the orange soda is not the first time beverages have met their fate for using the Champagne name.

In April, more than 2,000 bottles of American beer, called "Champagne of Beer", were destroyed in Belgium at the request of the Champagne Committee.

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