Consumer ProtectionBetter product labeling with the online platform "Lebensmittelklarheit"

On the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the project “Lebensmittelklarheit” (nutrition check), the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) published a market check. Since July 2011, consumers can report complaints online on the platform “Lebensmittelklarheit” regarding the presentation and labeling of groceries. In the recent market check, the vzbv made test purchases and inquiries to manufacturers in order to examine whether they reacted to consumers’ complaints. These are the results:

  • Over the past five years, consumers reported 788 food products through the online tool. Subsequently, 47 % of manufacturers improved their products based on these complaints.
  • The majority of complaints deals with a so-called potential for deception. However, in 2014, companies only reacted to 24 % of these reported cases (124 in total).
  • The potential for deception most commonly includes misleading pledges about ingredients. In 2015, 43 % of the 182 reported products fell into this category.
  • In 2015, 21 % of consumers considered product labels to be insufficiently informative or transparent. Respectively, 8 % criticized advertisements including health pledges or traditional recipes even though the products contained additives or highly processed ingredients.

Klaus Müller, director of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv), commented as follows: "'Lebensmittelklarheit' started five years ago experiencing considerable opposition from the industry. All the more, we are pleased that consumer complaints are being heard now. Not all manufacturers use the opportunity to indicate changes in the interest of consumers. In every third case, consumer critique is being ignored. This is one third too much. Manufacturers use the legal space too frequently for their marketing agenda – at the expense of true and transparent food labels.”

Source: Federation of German Consumer Organizations

More information, infographics "Fünf Jahre Lebensmittelklarheit" and the market check "Lebensmittelklarheit erreicht bessere Produktkennzeichnung"