Germany - Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards

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In Germany, the Lebensmittel-, Bedarfsgegenstände- und Futtermittelgesetzbuch (LFBG) comprises the basic German food and feed law, most of which is based on fully harmonized EU regulations and directives. The LFGB provides basic definitions, procedural rules and goals of the German food law. It defines general food safety and health protection rules, addresses labeling requirements, regulates inspection, detention, and seizure rules of suspect food. These rules apply to domestically produced and imported food products alike.
Ultimately, the German importer has final responsibility for the marketability of any imported products into Germany. The German law enforcement agencies hold the importer solely responsible for any violations of the Food Law since they cannot take action against foreign producers including those in other EU countries. Violations of the Food Law by the importer constitute a punishable offence.
The authority for enforcement rests with the federal states (German Laender). This implies that on occasion, a minor infraction to the food law may be tolerated in one state but not in another. However, major violations are persecuted in all federal states. Domestic and foreign goods are checked by random sampling by government laboratories at the point of sale or any other point in the trade chain or at the processing location. German government laboratories, in addition to looking for prohibited ingredients or proper labeling, evaluate the general nature of a product in terms of honest trading practices and general consumer expectations. Whenever a product violates the Food Law and presents a risk to public health, regardless of whether it is a domestic or foreign product, this becomes known to the press, which will mention the brand name, importer or producer when informing the consumer. A general administrative agreement regarding food safety requires German food safety authorities to take five samples per thousand inhabitants annually. This includes samples at any location of the production and trade chain.

Leif Rehder