London, July 5 : They may look like crisps, and even crunch like crisps, but in the eyes of law, the mouth-watering Pringles are not potato chips.
After an inquiry into the ingredients, manufacturer, packaging and public image of the tube-packaged snack, a High Court passed the ruling that Pringles is not a crisp.
Justice Warren's judgment means that, unlike regular crisp-makers, Pringles manufacturer Proctor and Gamble is exempt from paying VAT on its snack.
The judge allowed an appeal by manufacturers Proctor and Gamble against a VAT Tribunal decision that Pringles should be standard-rated at 17.5 percent as falling within the definition "potato crisps, potato sticks, potato puffs and similar products made from the potato, or from potato flour, or from potato starch".
Most foodstuffs are zero-rated for VAT, but Revenue and Customs argued that Pringles fell within the "potato crisp" exception, reports the Telegraph.
Procter and Gamble pointed out that, unlike potato crisps, Pringles had a regular shape "not found in nature" as well as a uniform colouring and texture and a "mouth melt" taste.
Crisps did not contain non-potato flours like Pringles and were not normally packaged in tubes.
And customers did not regard Pringles as potato crisps.
Justice Warren ruled that Pringles were not "made from the potato" within the definition laid down by the 1994 VAT Act.
To fall within the exception, a product "must be wholly, or substantially wholly, made from the potato".
Pringles, he said, were made from potato flour, corn flour, wheat starch and rice flour together with fat and emulsifier, salt and seasoning, with a potato content of around 42 percent.