Published October 12, 2016
The Consumer Agency has ruled that the produce company Lambhagi did not deliberately mislead consumers by labeling a plant that is not spinach as being “spinach lettuce”. As such, they may continue to call the product by its given name.
RÚV reports that another company, Hollt og gott ehf, had done genetic testing of the product Lambhagi was billing as spínatkál; literally “spinach lettuce”. It came to light that the plant in question was actually Brassica rapa – known as komatsuna, or Japanese mustard spinach.
A formal complaint was filed, contending that the labeling of the plant as “spinach lettuce” was deliberately misleading and confusing for consumers. Lambhagi denied the accusations, saying that there is simply no word for komatsuna in Icelandic, and only sought to coin a closely equivalent word.
The Consumer Agency agreed with Lambhagi, and so they are permitted to continue calling komatsuna “spínatkál”.
Nutritionally speaking, there are differences between the two plants. Komatsuna is known for having high levels of calcium; something spinach only has in moderate levels. However, spinach has much higher levels of iron than komatsuna.